Pandemic Legacy : Season 1
Designer – Rob Daviau and Matt Leacock
Publisher – Z-Man Games
Year Published – 2015
Players – 2 – 4
Play Time – 60 min
BEFORE WE BEGIN
This game plays very differently than a typical board game plays so I feel I need to begin with a little explanation of how I am going to review this. This game evolves and changes with every game so the game that you play will not be same as the game you played previously. It will add new game mechanics and components as you play into the year (in game). Your experience will be molded by the decisions that you and your group make that gives each experience a unique feel. I will not be posting any spoilers as mentioned in the title so you don’t have to worry. I made sure the pictures were all things you would be able to see from the game out of box and without any of the added materials. Lets begin!
Game Break Down
The world is being ravaged by disease and its up to you to save it. In Pandemic Legacy, your disease-fighting team must keep four deadly diseases at bay for a whole year. Each month bring about new challenges and your actions in each game will have repercussions on the next. Every game of Pandemic Legacy will unfold differently and ultimately will be a one time experience.
There isn’t anything that is spectacular here so you will not be reading my overwhelming praise. However, the components are very functional and of good quality. The art direction was well thought out. Every piece of graphic art carries an air of a Science Fiction Thriller movie. It’s hard to explain but is understood upon viewing just the board.
The cards of the game are a nice thick stock which is impressive for cards that may or may not be torn apart throughout the game. All the cards in the Legacy deck are numbered which shows a lot of forward thinking.
All the stickers you get sent shivers down my spine upon viewing. I was so worried they would start to peel with play but surprisingly they worked very well. The effect of all the components as a whole pull you into a narrative without being distracting.
The rule book had to be quite the challenge to write and plan. The disaster that it could have been is obvious but it avoids the pit falls and is a little master piece. The basic rules of standard Pandemic carried over to Pandemic Legacy with a few exceptions so it’s easy enough for veterans to jump right in. The notable differences are the glaring holes with places to put stickers. As events happen, the game will give you stickers to place in your rule book to alter or add to existing rules. This is done rather well as the sticker placement, once placed, is seamless with the preexisting rules. This works wonderfully if your in need of a rule clarification or reminder in between games.
Pandemic Legacy is very different from your traditional board game experience. Each game will carry a new sets of rules and gameplay that you will have to adjust to play efficiently. The gameplay that I will be running through is the one out of the box and not the one that you will eventual develop.
The basic concepts of this game remain unchanged from the original Pandemic with a few changes. Players (2-4) will assume the roles of various disease experts and will be working together to cure 4 diseases before they destroy the world. You will be moving across a map of the world and treating the sick, collecting city cards, and discovering cures.
Each player turn is divided into 3 steps which consist of 4 actions, drawing 2 player cards, and infecting cities. The actions that can be taken by players include moving in various manners, building structures, treating a disease, sharing cards with other players, and discovering a cure at a CDC.
After players perform their chosen 4 actions they have to draw 2 cards from the player deck. These cards are usually city cards that can be collected by a player to discover a cure. 5 cards of the same color are required by a player to discard from your hand to discover a cure. In the player deck are also funded event cards that will perform a specific action that will help players throughout the game. These cards will diminish by two if players have won their previous game. Finally, players may draw Epidemic cards from the player deck that infects a new city to its breaking point and shuffles the previously infected cities. They are then placed on top of the infection deck and the infection rate is increased by 1 which increases the difficulty.
The infection step is drawing infection cards of the top of the infection deck. How many you draw is determined by the current infection rate. The city drawn is infected by the disease color associated with that city and a disease cube is added to that city. If that city is at three total cubes when you have to add one more then that city outbreaks. When a city outbreaks then all surrounding cities receive a disease cube of that color as well which can also trigger a new outbreak.
The game will end in defeat if the outbreak counter reaches 8, running out of any of the colors of disease cubes, or a player cannot draw 2 player cards after they do their actions. Players will end in victory if the game end objectives are completed which in your first game will be to cure all 4 of the diseases.
The gameplay differs from the original Pandemic in a couple different ways. The biggest difference is the introduction of the legacy deck. This will provide you with the story elements and game changes as play continues. Also a big change is when a city outbreaks, players must increase the panic level of that city. This makes traveling to and from the city increasing difficult as the panic level rises. More elements will be introduced to differentiate Pandemic from Pandemic Legacy as the game progresses. Lastly the characters differ a little as they can now be upgraded. Through victory, players may add 2 game end upgrades to their next play. This ranges from disease changes, card changes, new structure starting locations, and character upgrades. These character upgrades will provide addition benefits to using the character but also creates an odd sense of sentiment.
This gameplay run down is void of the legacy functions that you will find in game but this is the basic gameplay. I have a lot of fun playing Pandemic but the legacy style really brings this game to a new level. Every game in the original pandemic was intense but was inevitably inconsequential. You can make choices without recourse other than what the present game provides. Past your current play, the game resets and you will play a new game with the starting conditions being renewed. This is not how the legacy element works.
The game will take your poor decisions and will put consequences to them for future games. Your characters can be injured and can die from those injuries. Cities can fall making travel around the globe increasing difficult. Many other elements will be added throughout your plays that will add many levels of depth to the game. All of these things make for a very emotional experience. Much like a role playing game, you become very attached to your characters that you build and to the cities that you defend. Any plight that occur almost feels like a personal attack because of its immersive gameplay. I’ve never seen a board game bring players to this level of commitment and passion.
Grade 2 / 2
Pandemic has some good gameplay that made sense in context to its theme. Pandemic Legacy continues this but goes one step farther that makes it amazing. It adds narrative and consequence to the already solid gameplay that only enhances the theme. The addition of the legacy deck is a crucial element to the enhancement of the theme. Every month you enter in this game will pair with a little pre-game narrative that will direct your mission and provide you with any changes that may have occurred. The addition of the panic level of cities also adds to the thematic feel of a game through immersion. You watch the world you’re creating being affected by the decisions you are making. Every player gets a sense of connection to the world and their characters that few games I have played to date can provide. Theme is an aspect to this game that will not disappoint.
Grade 2 / 2
I’m not sure that fun is the proper term when I look back at our total gaming experience. I’m joking of course but I must say the range of emotions that you feel throughout the game ranges from complete stress and disappointment to elation. I think the combination of these emotions and sharing them with your other players is key to the fun factor. All the stress you feel when the situation is looking dire and the excitement of the exact card you need comes into your hand is a feeling that is tangible once it hits the table. It’s that exact feeling that drives that need to play your next game as soon as possible. I like to equate it to binge watching a Netflix series. It’s so addicting that it think the FDA should be doing some kind of study into its legality. Is it fun? Yes it is!
Grade 2 / 2
This is where this game has found it’s faults. Sadly like a great book that you just can’t put down, this will end eventually. The experience will live with you for quite some time but continued enjoyment of the experience will never be the same. You can play the last month of the game again but trust me when I say that it just won’t be the same and you probably won’t want to. I will defend it by saying that this game will take 12 to 24 game play sessions for you to complete the story line which is substantially more plays than I have played most of my other games. This game will have you chomping at the bit to get your next game in until it’s completed which I feel speaks to its immediate replayability. That being said you may have a cardboard tomb on your shelf that may never see the light of day again once you have played through the entire game.
Grade 1 / 2
Disease filled box that I loved from start to finish. The stories and experience is definitely worth the finite amount of plays you get from Pandemic Legacy.
Final Grade 9 / 10