Friday, 17 March 2017

Pandemic: Legacy. What. A. Game.

Right, so for those of you who might ever play this game, I will warn you where you need to get off.

First off for those unfamiliar with the idea of Legacy, it is sort of like a campaign for a boardgame, with each game leading into and effecting the next. You alter the gameboard as you go along and things occur. You stick stickers to the game. You write on character sheets. You rip up cards. If this sounds horrific to you (one club member physically flinched every time we destroyed a Risk Legacy card while playing a game at the club once, he wasn't even playing, he was just at the next table, but it was still a serious distraction to him) perhaps this game is not for you. On the bright side, you can probably read this entire post!

Pandemic Legacy takes the cracking team based disease fighting game, and basically makes it into a story. Your random scientist becomes a character you actually care about, and you start to feel sorry for the characters who don't get selected for a few games in a row, almost like they're sat on the bench permanently hopeful yet disappointed.

As you play through missions it will tell you when to do certain things. There is a deck of instruction cards, it is stacked in order, and it is very specific about how it is to be handled. It even says if you drop the deck, the cards are numbered, please give them to someone who isn't playing and have them put them back in the correct order for you!

These cards reveal more plot points about your ongoing narrative, as well as changing the things you have to do each time you play to achieve your mission. They also instruct you when to open dossiers (these tend to be extra stickers to put into the rulebook as a game mechanic is introduced that lets you do more things as the story progresses) and open extra boxes (extra items to interact with usually)

Anyway, over the past couple weeks my friends and I have played this game through to completion, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Whilst with Risk Legacy the three of us regretted not playing with the full amount of people as we feel it would have made the game more interesting, Pandemic Legacy you can play with less than the required people, and it will still be a truly epic game. I feel like I have finished an excellent boxset, and am waiting for more... which is why I was pleased to stumble across confirmation that Pandemic Legacy season 2 is in development whilst looking for images to add to this post.

I heartily recommend this game to anyone who has played Pandemic and enjoyed it, and anyone who hasn't. You will play between 12 and 24 games, each of which takes about 45 minutes, so it is quite a time commitment and you may have to break it up over several sessions, but it is well worth it. I am considering playing through it again with different people, although if I do I shall very much be taking a back seat to their decisions so as not to spoil it for them. Act like a participating GM as it were.

So, how did we get on in our little campaign? Anything revealed from this point on will potentially reveal what you can expect from the game plot, so I really do not recommend reading further if you have any intention of ever playing this game.

Are you sure?

ok, fine, you were warned...

Alright, silly joke aside...

It started as a normal game of pandemic, and we were happy enough with how things were going... but then one of the diseases mutated. We could no longer cure it, or treat it. Now luckily, we didn't have to cure it to complete the mission, just cure the others. But that doesn't mean you can ignore it, as it spreads... and if it spreads into others, it changes them into it's colour too. Left unchecked, it would eventually turn EVERY city in the world into the untreatable disease, and you would swiftly lose every game were that the case, simply by not having enough disease markers to put on the board.

So we were throwing up road blocks and trying to stop the spread whilst treating the other diseases, but with every success the CDC decided we were clearly over funded and would reduce our funding for the next game. Now every funding drop meant that we lost a couple of tactically useful cards from the player deck, AND the player deck was smaller, meaning we had less time to complete the mission (although this was never actually a thing that killed us in our games if I recall correctly... running out of disease cubes happened sometimes, going over our outbreak limit happened a LOT, but time didn't seem to be our Achilles heel...)

On the other hand, given you suffer scars to your characters if you are around when an outbreak occurs, and our team spent most of the game unscathed, perhaps we weren't being heroic enough with our characters...

Our quarantine specialist, one of very few characters to actually pick up a scar...
As the plot progressed we started to have to search for various people, but we seemed to have developed a knack for that... As the people we were searching for were inevitably within the roadblocked wasteland we had created centred on Eurasia, it was great that I had a character who had the only way to fight that particular disease at his disposal. He went in, kicked arse, and found the info we wanted several times. However it came to October, and things started to go badly. We sent the General to search for a Paranoid soldier, but he got attacked and developed a case of paranoia... oh the irony. "Don't worry son, they aren't really after you... they're after ME" probably not the best pep-talk to give the poor lad. Also didn't help that he was seemingly searching the wrong continent, as one of my teammates checked somewhere else and found him... and the little fucker ratted me out. It turned out my general who I had come to love and used for several games, was an inside man working against the team... he quietly disappeared never to be seen again.

And THAT is one of the excellent parts of this game, I was GUTTED that my favourite character was gone. The story had made me really care about the characters we were using, they'd grown with us, developed with us, they had personality.

Anyway, it turned out we'd been duped by a sinister New World Order, and had to spend the last couple months basically undoing all the things we'd spent most of the year building up, whilst trying to save the world from the infections that had been loosed. We won our last game, did that mean we won? Well, maybe. It then gave us a scorecard.

We had to go back through our log and see how well we did. Winning months the first time got good points, winning at the second attempt some, not winning the month and moving on defeated... not good. Out of a possible 1000, we scored 550. It got us basically a C rating on our card... you've done all right, and human civilisation should recover within 20-30 years... go you. But hey, at least we didn't get our arse saved by the Bravo team (there is a 200 point deduction if they have to help you out, basically if you aren't revealing the plot because you can never win, they will eventually give you all the plot stuff at once in a big reveal of "you fuckwits you're working FOR the bad guys..." so all in all could have been worse)

Anyway, I am pleased to say we had a full game experience, including opening ALL the boxes (one of which was "Only open if you lose 4 games in a row" so perhaps not one we should be too proud of...) something which we never managed in Risk Legacy... not only did we have one unopened packet on the box lid, but tonight I found out there is a secret packet UNDER the sodding box insert. Now admittedly that packet says "Do not open. Ever!" on it, but given my compatriots wanted to cheat in order to open the last packet during our final few games, when there was a known mechanism for opening it in place, they just didn't think it likely we would achieve it... there is no way they would resist opening that packet. I shall have to save it for them, and not tell them, as they have expressed an interest in playing again with more people. It'll be my little surprise for them.

So yes, in summary, buy this game, and if you are determined NOT to buy this game, hence reading this far, then buy the bloody sequel when it is available.

Apparently both boxes are the same, just different cover art. Naturally, there are quite a few conspiracy theories about this...

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