A legacy variant means that the foundation of a game is used to build around it a story that you experience by playing scenarios. One game starts where the previous one ended and so the story slowly unfolds. Rest assured, this review is spoiler free!
Pandemic Legacy begins as a normal game of Pandemic. There are four virus outbreaks and the players must control them and discover medicines to prevent mankind from going extinct. All rules are the same as in Pandemic. Players therefore also take on the role of a character and each character has its own special characteristic (are able to preform tasks that the others can not). In Legacy the characters have passports and you are invited to name the characters at the beginning of the game and write that name in the passport (indeed you write with non-erasable ink on the game material).
If there is an outbreak in one city, you have to put a (non-removable) sticker on the board near that city. The first time isn’t that bad (the city has become unstable but nothing else changes yet), but when outbreaks occur more often, it becomes increasingly difficult to reach a city like this (you can’t fly to it anymore or you even have to discard extra cards to enter the city). If a character is in a city when an outbreak occurs, then the character does not escape undamaged either. You have to choose a scar-sticker and paste it into the passport of the character. This sticker shows an inconvenient feature and each character can have a maximum of 2 scars. If a character runs up a third scar, then the character dies. You have to tear up the passport of the character and continue playing with another character. The stickers are permanent on the board and in the passports, so you have take them with you to the next game you play.
The box contains a stack of Legacy cards. At certain points in the game (often at the beginning or end of a scenario) you need to read cards from this stack. Through these cards the story is told and the game changes because the rules change slightly or you get new opportunities. In the box are exciting black boxes and cardboard files. At certain moments during the game you have to open such a box.
You can always choose two upgrades at the end of a scenario (you can do this whether you win or lose). You have different types of upgrades. For example, you can stick an event sticker on a city card, making this card not only playable as a city card but also as an event card. You can also place a sticker on the place where you have built a research station to indicate that the research station is permanent (the next game starts with an extra research station). You can also send a character to a training course, giving him new features (you stick the corresponding sticker in the character’s passport). The last option is to mutate a virus that you eradicated in the game (you stick a sticker on the board with the positive mutation that will make the virus easier to deal with in the future). And the first time you eradicate a virus, you can also give it a name (by writing on the board).
Pandemic Legacy contains 12 scenarios (named after the months of the year). If you win a scenario you may move on to the next scenario. If you lose a scenario the first time, you may try again and if you fail again, you have to move on to the next month. It is quite normal to lose once in a while, sometimes even several times in a row. But for teams that are really hard at work, there’s help on the way. If you lose four times in a row, you may open box 8 for extra help!
Pandemic Legacy Season 1 is excellent!
Let’s get straight to it, a 10 out of 10 is to low for this game. Pandemic already is a great game, but Legacy adds to it. It’s really fun to discover the story and you really want to know how it continues (it’s as addictive as a good exciting Netflix show). The personal touch is also great by giving the characters names and gradually changing the game with the upgrades. It is also a special experience to have to write on a game or destroy game material (so don’t buy this second hand!).
Do play this game with a regular group of experienced game enthusiasts, because the narrative nature of the game is best experienced this way. It’s especially suitable for experienced players because of the fact that small and big things are constantly changing in the game. Furthermore, you should not leave too much time between sessions because otherwise you might forget small (new) rules. But if you do, you’re guaranteed a awesome time!