Pandemic Legacy

The title is literally that simple. We’ll be taking a break from game of the year awards for a moment. Mostly because I was lazy and haven’t written anything about the first half of my top ten list.

Our board state by the end of the game.

Six months ago, or more – I can’t remember and I’m too lazy to check – I wrote about an awesome board game called Risk Legacy. It played like Risk but the game built on itself over the course of fifteen games. When you met certain conditions you would open up packs of cards or new board pieces. I played with the same four people over several months and in that time we changed the “world”… for worse. The planet in that game became a living nightmare.

But on last Tuesday, my friends and I started up another legacy game: Pandemic.

For those not in the know, Pandemic is a cooperative game where four players work together to cure the world of four diseases. The more they spread, the worse things get, and if there are too many outbreaks then you lose. It’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s the bare bones explanation.

The biggest difference between this game and Risk Legacy – besides being cooperative over competitive – is that no matter what you’ll always be unlocking new things. The game plays out over the course of an in game year. Each month could contain up to two games – depending on if you win the first game in the month. If you do, jump to the next one. If not, you get a second chance to repair the damage.

We were on a hot streak for the first three games and in the end that made us a little cocky. We got brutalized in April and that taught us a harsh lesson. One we wound up learning several times over in the course of the summer months and a few of the fall ones.

The game had reached a point where one of the viruses had mutated and calling containing that a struggle would be an understatement. But we trucked along nonetheless. This was made easier by the fact that whether we won or lost, we got to upgrade the board and continue to unlock new content.

This helped a lot on our second day of playing, in which we spent at least twelve hours finishing the last eight months of the year. It was easy to keep going when each game held the chance to unlock new mechanics and cards for us to play with. More than Risk Legacy, Pandemic wanted to tell a story. So win or lose, we would be along for the ride.

By the end of the game, we’d sussed out a traitor, became resistance members against a military dictatorship, cured a zombie epidemic, and saved the world. At the end of the game you’re given a card to read and depending on your end game score, you get a certain ending.

There are five endings that range from “the world is over” to “you saved the world with ease!”. We landed just below the very best ending. We didn’t solve all the world’s problems swiftly and with ease, but we kicked ass and made sure that “our faces would be on money for centuries to come”. Or something like that.

The picture you’ll see at the top of this post is our board state at the end of the very last game. One day I’ll remember to take a snapshot at the end of each game so there’s a slideshow of progression. But for now enjoy the picture of the planet after fighting a year’s worth of battles against zombies.

And for god’s sake we need to build some better ways to get from Africa to South America >_> Oh and split up East Asia into a peninsula or something because our zombie plague spread like wild fire over there. Just look at Shanghai as a prime example.

This version of Pandemic Legacy was also billed as “Season One”. What that will mean in the grand scheme of things, I have no idea. But I’m excited for the potential!


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