Pandemic was the first game we ever bought. We played it over and over and over again until the cards started to fade and the board edges became white. We eventually framed the first game since it holds such a sentimental spot in our heart and now it hangs in our home. Needless to say, we had very high hopes for Pandemic Legacy: Season 1.
Without spoiling anything (I’ll get to that in a separate post), I thought Pandemic Legacy was a great experience but a tad lackluster on the game end. If you enjoy Pandemic and want a campaign, I highly recommend this trying this out. You’re getting a game you already enjoy building off prior plays. There is a narrative that immerses you and makes you want to keep playing. However, if you want a campaign style game but aren’t a fan of Pandemic, you probably won’t like Season 1 for the same reasons. It’ll be a little more nuanced than that but I cannot dive any deeper without spoiling anything.
Besides the individual plays building off of one another, the biggest change in Legacy-style games is the destruction of components throughout the game. I will say that we felt absolutely dirty destroying components and marking up the board. This is a personal issue but as someone who has gone to great lengths to protect their games, I couldn’t shake the feeling that placing stickers or writing on a component was wrong. Some people might revel in this or take no issue but it’s worth noting for the few of us that align with me. It never got easier. It didn’t diminish the experience at all but it was something that I didn’t think would matter to me as much as it did.
Regarding the main component, the board itself is slightly larger than the base version of Pandemic but it will look incredibly familiar to players of the original game. There are some new graphic additions that help players keep track of the unique Legacy implementations. They do not detract from the game at hand. There are some additional alterations, such as some of the connections of the cities have been altered, with Santiago being the most obvious to us. Typically, Santiago is a dead end but now it’s connected to Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is now connected to Johannesburg (making that South America-to-Africa connection). Also of note is that Baghdad is no longer connected to Karachi. These changes are helpful for travel but also can cause issues as disease can now spread easier through these channels. While the risk/reward is similar, I rather enjoyed the changes as it made navigation a little easier.
The individual character role cards are slightly more fleshed out than the base versions. I’m not in love with them though as I found them incredibly hard to write-on (as they’re used to track plays). This is a minor annoyance but for something designed to be written on, I couldn’t find a pen in our house to manage that duty (Sharpie, felt, or ball). Maybe all the writing utensils in my house suck but it was a source of frustration.
The infection and player cards are the same as they’ve always been and the components for your characters and tracking the diseases and infections remain the same. There are no changes there.
The items that make the game a Legacy game are interesting and easy to follow without spoiling yourself. The game presents everything in a concise way to ensure players new and old are comfortable. This is important as there are some slight tweaks to the game so make sure you read the rulebook (even if you’re a Pandemic master).
If you play this over the course of weeks or months (and not six days like us), you will be wise to refresh the rules with all players, particularly the new bits that will get introduced. Nothing is complicated but as each month will be slightly different, there’s no harm to ensuring players are on the same page, especially since each play matters. The new concepts don’t overly complicate any aspect of the game but they do add a few wrinkles that players need to know and utilize. A fully completed Pandemic Legacy will be slightly more complex than the base game but it’s only due to information retention than to depth and strategy.
There were some rules questions that we had come up during the course of the game and this was a source of contention for us as how do you find the answers without spoiling the game for yourself? We were able to Google them and avoid spoilers (as it appears others had similar questions) so don’t fret about being lost up the creek without a paddle.
Whoever you decide to play with, make sure you stick together for the long haul. I would not skip games unless necessary and would not let someone jump in from the second month on. It would just be too much of a disadvantage for the players in my opinion.
Our absolute biggest concern was how the game would play at only two-players. We really enjoyed ourselves. We both played one character each and rarely if ever swapped roles. I’ve heard some people say to control two characters each but that was not necessary for us. At times, we debated introducing a third character that we both controlled but the situation never called for it. If you’re worried about playing this two-players with your spouse or SO or roommate, rest assured it works just as well as regular Pandemic does with two. You will have the same challenges that you have in regular Pandemic where some games seem to easy and some seem incredibly too hard.
I personally enjoyed it at two and don’t know how I’d feel at three or four. My main issue would be waiting to play (as you need to get everyone together) and time of play (as each player will add time to the game as they make decisions and such). With new items, the games will get longer and that’s only exacerbated by having more players around the table. We finished the game in six days and I know we couldn’t do that with more players.
I want to talk about the story but won’t. You can spoil it yourself if you’d like but it was gripping enough to make us want to see the entire thing through. In fact, I never thought about putting the game away or taking a break during the campaign. If unimportant things like work, sleep, and food wouldn’t have gotten in the way, we would have been done even quicker. There were aspects I didn’t like and didn’t agree with but it never made me want to stop playing.
The two different box art covers do not change anything regarding the game. All the components inside are identical and only the box art is different.
It looks like Season One is on Amazon for roughly $59.99 and while I believe that price was worth it, it can be hard to justify with a game that you’ll only play “once”. There is no reset feature like Charterstone (double-sided board) or Gloomhaven (removable stickers) offer. I have seen it for cheaper at some stores and during sales (even down to $34.99) and would tell people to jump on it at that price if they were even remotely interested.
This is pretty much all I can say regarding the game without going into Spoilers. If you have a particular question that wasn’t answered, let me know via email and I’ll try and help!
I will spoil the game in my next post if that’s your thing so keep a look out.