Pandemic Legacy is the 2015 version of the amazing game Pandemic but is very different as it is a legacy game. This means that the outcome of one game will affect all other games to come. You play game after game as the story of an awful disease-ridden year unfolds.
There are no spoilers whatsoever in this review. Any would undermine your enjoyment of the game and be like giving away the cliff-hangers at the end of every episode in a TV series. This review also assumes you know and have played Pandemic. Click here to find out more about it if you don’t.
Unboxing the game just adds to the mystery. The board is bigger than the standard game with some new connections. The hard to get to Santiago is now connected to Buenos Ares, but on the downside, Buenos Ares is also now linked to Johannesburg making Africa and South America even more dangerous.
You’ll immediately notice the sealed boxes that line the bottom of the box along with the sheets and sheets of numbered and lettered tabs that you ache to reveal.
There’s also a deck of cards that I’d advise to keep in the box. If this spills and gets mixed up you’re in for a world of pain and will have to get it back in numerical sequence. These drive the legacy part of the game and tell you when to draw cards and stop drawing them and which stickers to use and boxes to open. These give you the mission for the game ahead but I’m sure you can guess that there are some surprises ahead.
Even the characters are different. You start with only a few but now the character cards have additional intriguing spaces to and new skills, relationships and scars. Scars are wounds that happen when your character is caught in a city when an outbreak happens. These restrict their abilities and can even kill them!
Pandemic Legacy is not for the faint-hearted or those who love to keep games in pristine condition as you will stick stickers on the board and in the rule book and you will rip up cards. This is an adventure and you’re in for a ride.
Outbreaks now not only can scar characters but also make the game much more hazardous as any city that has an outbreak has its panic level increased. This can mean you can’t fly to or from them or have to discard cards to enter them. This plays on your mind a lot as when playing normal Pandemic you could happily have 4 or 5 outbreaks and not worry about it. Now every single one matters as they affect every single game to come.
I won’t spoil the surprises for you by telling you what happens but I will tell you how it feels to play Pandemic Legacy as it very different from a normal board game.
The games are tense and often a race against time while trying to cope with whatever new the game throws at you. These come at you either at the start or during the game. The deck just tells you to turn over cards and when this should happen next. For example, this may mean be before or after a scheduled epidemic. This alerts you to expect something but you have no idea what. From experience is hasn’t been what I was expecting – it was worse!
At times it will leave you thinking “oh no!” And that’s unusual for a board game to produce an emotional response. You’ll get plenty of those moments.
Pandemic Legacy can even make you very nervous about who to let play a game with you. An inexperienced player can not only ruin a single game but could also wound a character and make things worse for games to come.
At the end of every game you get two gain two upgrades that can be used to add extra abilities to characters, make a disease slightly easier to cure or place an extra starting lab to the board for every game to come.
After our first game we happily gave one of the characters the ability to hold an extra card. But then Pandemic Legacy changed things so we haven’t used the character since. Sneaky! It seems to force you to ignore your favourite characters and use the others which can take you out of comfort zone.
Throughout the games you have this mental image of what December will look like. Maybe just two characters surviving, the world in panic, many cities you can’t even get too and the end of the world looming. If you survive that long…
Pandemic Legacy is a game you really must have. Just be careful who you let play with you!
We’ve just finished Pandemic Legacy and here are my final thoughts.
Every game is tense and exciting. Some will elate you others will actually depress you. This game is emotionally draining.
The surprises keep coming
Can you beat our Legendary score of 832?
We can’t wait for Season 2
But we have one big question – what do we do with it now we’ve finished?