January 24, 2021•875 words
So, this is a bit of an experiment. Not having really reviewed board games or even really recorded my thoughts on them before, I guess I don't know where this'll end up. I think that's fine.
Pandemic Legacy is a spin-off - well, a legacy version - of the reasonably popular Pandemic series of games. At the time of writing, Season 0 is the most recent of three (the others being Season 1 and 2).
If you're new to legacy games, perhaps you've played games like Dungeons and Dragons - essentially, it means that the consequences of choices you make in each game can carry over to the next. You might lose a character permanently, or be able to have access to improved resources on a permanent basis.
What the legacy mechanic does is allow a game designer to add stakes to a game, and perhaps to tell a story that might not have had as much impact if you could just replay it over and over again. Throughout the course of the game, it'll ask you to make changes to, or even destroy, certain game components. You'll unlock new game components and rules.
It's like a choose your own adventure, but only once - unless you want to drop the cash on another game set, or meticulously keep track of the various changes to the game state. And that might be alright: legacy games are not for everyone, just as as not all people will like all games.
You don't need to have played Season 1 or 2 to enjoy Season 0. You might miss out on some in-jokes, though 😉
What's in these reviews
I'll update this post as I discover more spoiler-free things that I can add to it.
As well as these, I'll journal our group's attempts at playing the game, along with my thoughts on how it played out, I guess.
Finally, I'm playing in a group of four: this has effects on access to starting resources. If you've played a game of base Pandemic, or either of the other Pandemic Legacy games, you'll know that it also gives you flexibility in some ways, but that it also has disadvantages in others. Things take longer, but sometimes someone's in the right spot. That kind of thing.
Alright, onto the actual review/thoughts. This includes everything (opened) in the box up to just before the start of the Prologue game.
Art, design, aesthetic
The game takes place in the early 1960s, and the game board reflects that. It uses toned-down, muted (some might say "drab") colours; think pastel and sepia. Font choices tend to be favour monospace and block/print lettering - if you've played Papers, Please, it's sort of like that.
As you're looking through the material, you might notice that it's a little more colour-blind friendly than Pandemic has been in the past; where colour is significant, it's (usually) also signified by symbols and/or patterns. It's a nice touch, and something I wish more game designers would do.
Rules and mechanics
Well, this is quite the departure from previous Pandemic games, and even previous Pandemic Legacy games. The plague cubes are replaced with agents, and while you're still doctors, you're also spies.
There are three affiliations that a city can have - Allied, Neutral, and Soviet - and as usual, the world map is divided into regions; this time, there are six: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific Rim.
You might notice that the cards are also numbered: we have no idea what that means, for now.
Outbreaks are gone; instead they cause incidents, which instead of having impact on adjacent cities, cause negative effects in an (effectively) random region of the world.
You now also have access to teams, who will Mop Up after you've completed your actions each turn. You need to move these vans around, and they only mop up once you're done.
Surveillance replaces some of the previous games' mechanics of infestation or cities becoming forsaken; if you start a turn in a city that's under surveillance and you don't have a safehouse, you lose cover.
Flying is a bit cheaper, potentially, though a little more limited; you can still discard the card for the city you're in to fly anywhere, but you can fly to Allied cities just by revealing that card.
There's a lot to unpack here, and I don't think I'll go through every change: the rulebook itself has been available online for a little while, so you can grab it here if you want to have a read.
Bottom line, I think, is that there are a few new mechanics, changes on the old, and that they'll interact in ways that make the decisions that you need to make more difficult. Outbreak clusters are no longer really an issue - you need to look out for incident clusters, and prevent them from happening at all.
The rest of my impressions, I think, are going to be in my spoiler post!