First things first (I’m the realest) this review will contain zero spoilers of the game so you don’t have to worry about me mentioning anything that would ruin a reveal that’s just waiting to be found once you open the box. If you don’t mind spoilers we did a Spoilercast that talks about the game openly after we finished it completely. There’s no stone left unturned so only head there if you’ve abandoned all concern for the twists and turns.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, let me introduce you to what a Legacy game is, what it means and more importantly if it’s better than the standard variety. Pandemic Legacy is the second Legacy game released and is made by Rob Daviau and Matt Leacock. The Legacy game adds on an advent calendar of goodies to the game and brings an episodic narrative that guides your games through one main story. Pandemic Legacy covers 12 months (12 games) that you have two opportunities to beat before you have to move on to the next month. Why would you buy a game that you can only play 24 times at most that costs nearly twice as much?
You buy it because Pandemic Legacy provides you with a unique experience that’ll test your perseverance and sometimes friendship as you and up to three friends battle to save the ever declining world. With each new month you are presented with a mixture of new developments, new objectives and sometimes new goodies. This unveiling tops any expansion opening as you are drip fed the spoils throughout the campaign and they come as a sweet relief before the next challenge.
Pandemic Legacy’s first game out of the box is base Pandemic, it lets you ease into the marathon you’ve just committed to. If you’ve never played Pandemic then it’s simply a small case of trying to cure four diseases that are ravaging the world co-operatively with your friends whilst curing cities to reduce the spread. Occasionally you’ll draw an epidemic card and that’ll shift your plans and cause an eruption of sickness in one city. You each play an individual character that is specialised for one particular thing that grants you unique abilities. The game immediately ends once you’ve cured all four diseases.
So that’s the setup of the first game, but you’ll notice the board has space for more objectives than simply curing your four diseases and you’ll need those spaces because the game evolves, quickly forcing you to undertake missions that start to seem impossible. Make no mistake, the game transforms throughout the months, first teasing you then breaking the floodgates to give you new glorious things. The game makes a good point never to overwhelm you though, you’ll never feel like you’re getting too much to handle and that’s important because, you’ll probably mess up. Unless you’ve got a photographic memory, keeping track of all the changes can be difficult so you’ll want to keep the rulebook close by just in case.
The rulebook is one of my favourite things about the entire game. When you open it for the first time you’ll experience….well I don’t want to spoil that moment for you. If you’re anything like me however, you’ll find it quite delightful.
What I think Pandemic Legacy also does well is letting you name it’s characters. As the game is narrative driven it’s nice to see Rob Daviau and Matt Leacock allow you to make the characters more personal. Playing this game as “The Scientist” won’t enrich the narrative as much as Clark Fellington (feel free to replace with other generic name) who’s been travelling around Asia more times in the past two months curing the ill and helpless than you can count. It adds to the experience in a way you won’t quite fully appreciate until you’ve walked down the same road together.
So is this game worth pursuing if you’re not a fan of Pandemic? Yes. I’ve played a good amount of base Pandemic and once you’ve gotten through your first few games you are pretty clued up on the process and the strongest next moves. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great gateway game and introduction to cooperative games but it won’t grab you by the scruff of your neck and demand your attention like the Legacy edition will.
Ultimately, the game has a limit of 24 plays that you pay quite the price for, but at no point did I feel like the game didn’t offer me incredible value. The game isn’t perfect, the rules introductions flood in and some players may find the experience too stressful but if you’ve got a regular gaming group who can dedicate the time you feel a wonderful joint sense of responsibility, of saving the world and just finding out what the next month brings.
There’s been a lot of hype for this game, it’s pretty much been an epidemic, and the only cure is dive in, and create your own Pandemic Legacy.