Spoiler alert: I’ve done my best to not have spoilers in this post, however, there is a chance some might view some of the things I talk about as potential spoilers. Therefore, if you haven’t played Pandemic Legacy and are thinking about doing so, you might want to avoid the post.
The Pandemic series of games is excellent. Since I got into the board game hobby a few years ago, the original Pandemic has been one of my favorite games.
First, I love the cooperative gaming experience. Win as a team or lose as a team. Second, the game can change drastically with the number of players you have and what characters are used. Add in different expansions and it can be fully different, of course.
So when Legacy was announced, I was highly excited.
Basically, Pandemic Legacy takes you through a year – January to December. Each month, you play the game. If you lose, you play the month again. If you win, you move on. However, no matter what, you only play two times per month. Lose both and move on.
Your goal is to stop a deadly disease from spreading all over the world and destroying humanity. No pressure or anything. And every decision you make has the chance of making this outbreak even worse. The kicker to this game is the game actually changes throughout. Based on your decisions, cards can be ripped, characters killed off, changes to cities etc.
There are a whole slew of pull-off tab boards with different things that you unlock along the way, as well as small boxes to open. Inside each of these is something to change the game one way or another. It could be added components, or stickers for the rulebook or somewhere on the board, or something you possibly might be using from that point forward.
The game changes. Rules are added. Sometimes it takes something away. Maybe there’s something you aren’t allowed to do something. Objectives have to be met and sometimes they change.
All those changes stay with the game as you move forward, too. There’s no repeat, rewind or do over button.
At the end of 12 months, the game is over. There’s no replaying it because so many things have been destroyed and you know what happens. So, at the most, you get 24 plays with the game (which I think is well worth it).
The best part about this game, though, is it’s basically a narrative. You are part of a story that is being told. Your decisions impact what happens and which direction you go.
Can you save humanity?
The group I played with went 18 times, which comes down to about three bucks per play. I’ll take it.
When done, you have a game full of all sorts of items to not play again. I have some ideas on what I am going to do with the stuff. I had each person sign the board though, which is cool. I’m sure I’ll post about that once I have it done.
As for the game…
This was a fantastic experience. This has been called Season 1, and the rumors are Season 2 will be out in 2017 and I plan on getting that one for sure.
But Season 1…
First, the Legacy aspect of the game was cool. Things happened. The objectives we had to fill changed some. There were different things we had to do to try and make things a little easier on our people – such as build some things etc.
One cool aspect are the game-end upgrades. At the end of each game, you get to choose from a whole slew of things to upgrade the game – and it can be something to the game board itself, to a character etc. Each decision will help with one aspect of the game moving forward, if you utilize it.
If you don’t utilize it, then it obviously won’t help.
You can change up your characters throughout, but they can also die. They can get “scars,” which limits certain things they can do. They can also form “relationships” with other characters, thus giving them some “powers” to use with that person. When a character dies, you’re to rip up the card and get rid of them.
I think we had two characters die.
The characters, including the original crew and the ones we saw along the way, all had special powers to help us. We built some up with the upgrades.
We kept the same four people throughout, which made it better so we didn’t have to explain the new rules to somebody different. Though, to be honest, after playing it out one time – I think if one had to play it and had to change somebody out, I don’t think it would be a super big deal. Somebody might not get the full experience, but they should still get a solid experience from playing.
The thought process that had to have gone into making this version of the game is pretty incredible. Sometimes I can’t grasp how people come up with more simple games. To think this game was transformed not just to a normal play, but to an experience is pretty incredible.
The game was a story that you helped control. Sure, things were going to happen. That is for sure But the decisions you made and the directions you went were part of what shaped the game.
There’s no right or wrong way to tackle this experience, either. We played multiple games each time we played. I’ve read about people starting this January with the plan of playing the games within the real calendar month. Looking back, I think that would have been a pretty cool way to play it.
If you like Pandemic, this is definitely a game for you. Add in a cooperative effort for this with the narrative and it basically becomes Pandemic on steroids. Is this the best game I’ve ever played? I can’t say that (though it has shot up to No. 1 in the Board Game Geek ratings), but it was one of the coolest board gaming experiences I’ve ever had. I look forward to Season 2!
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