Pandemic Legacy Season 1
Today I am going to give a basic rundown of the Toledo Tuesday Gaming Club’s session of Pandemic Legacy Season 1–March episode. If you haven’t yet heard of Pandemic Legacy (or Pandemic for that matter) here is a brief synopsis. Pandemic is a cooperative game where all the players work together to stop four diseases from spreading around the globe. Each player has a character card with special abilities. For example, Stew usually is the Dispatcher who can move other players around the board on his turn. The players take turns moving around the globe, trying to suppress outbreaks, find cures, and generally stay one step ahead of the diseases. The regular game of Pandemic is won by finding a cure for all four diseases.
Pandemic Legacy is a campaign where the decisions that the players make each month have an impact on the future months. Moreover, Legacy has a secret set of cards, hidden flaps, and cardboard boxes with contents inside that change the rules, add character cards, and add new twists to the diseases each month. The objectives also change month to month. Rewards and character development are available to the players at the end of each game session too! In other words, Legacy is 12-month long game that evolves with the players’ choices, victories and defeats.
Pandemic Legacy Season 1 is available in both a red box and a blue box. Both versions are exactly the same game, but this allows a play group to have more than one campaign going at the same time. As you can see from the picture above, we chose the red box version. Why? I thought the red cover looked better!
Anyway, if you haven’t heard of Pandemic or Pandemic Legacy, check it out. Z-Man Games makes some excellent games. You also may not know that Neal and Stew of the TTGC know the founder of Z-Man games, Zev Shlasinger. We helped playtest the Shadowfist TCG while he owned the rights to it. We met him many times at Origins and GenCon. He is also a real good guy. I hear that last year he moved over to help WizKids with their board game development. You can find more info here: Zev Shlasinger Joins WizKids.
And now for a Spoiler Alert!
[SPOILER ALERT — SPOILER ALERT — SPOILER ALERT]
— If you are currently playing Pandemic Legacy Season 1 and have NOT yet played the March episode, do NOT continue reading. The following photos and text will give away some of the developments in the game during March —
The TTGC did not start off the March episode of Pandemic Legacy in high spirits: we had lost both games in February! However, Legacy has a game balance mechanic that now worked in our favor. The number of funded events available to the players increases after each loss (a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 10). Each event is a card in the player card deck and each works to not only help the players by having a special, beneficial effect, it also makes drawing the nasty epidemic cards a little less likely (and thus gives the players an extra half-turn per event card towards winning the game). We started the March episode with 8 event cards. We also wisely in February put an event card sticker on the Bangkok player card, effectively giving us a 9th event card.
Along a similar vein, our end game upgrades from January and February also helped us prepare for March. Two of our upgrades really contributed. First, we had established a research station in Kolkata, allowing everyone to fly between Atlanta (the CDC) and Kolkata. Thus, we were able to fly to Asia and deal with the nasty COdA-403b virus effectively (more on this in a minute). We did, with emphasis on “did”, have a research base in Moscow, but it burned down when the city had a nasty outbreak in February. Our station in Kolkata is centered in the picture below.
Our second big upgrade involves us tackling the yellow virus (it plagues Latin America and Africa). Because we found a cure and eradicated the yellow disease in both January and February, we have beneficial upgrades for treating and curing it in every month from March going forward. Thus, we can usually sweep up any outbreaks of the yellow disease easily and we find eradicating it to be much easier as well. The photo below shows our upgrades. You may note that we named the yellow virus BSNL-419. I will let you figure out what it means! 🙂
As you can see from the column with the red virus (it occurs mainly in East Asia), we can’t treat or cure it. In February we tried to keep it under control with the Quarantine Specialist but by focusing so much on the COdA virus we let blue and black get crazy on us.
March Mission Briefing
For March we learned that the Operations Expert would now be joining us and that military stations could now be placed. So characters with a military background could now travel between military stations as well as the regular research stations. Our March objectives were quite different from that of the previous months: have a military base in each of the six world regions and eradicate at least one disease. Given these objectives we choose the following four characters: Dispatcher (to move players around easier), Operations Expert (to put down military stations), Researcher (to get manage cards to cure diseases) and Quarantine Specialist (to keep that darn COdA virus from spreading).
To be honest, this was the fastest game of Pandemic (Legacy or otherwise) that we have ever played! We started in Atlanta as most of the Infection cards that we drew at the start of the game were the Yellow BSNL-419 virus, which we felt we could deal with quite easily. Moreover, our combination of characters worked nicely to quickly fan out around the globe. The Quarantine Specialist headed for Kolkata and used quarantine markers to stop the COdA from spreading. The Dispatcher stayed in North and South America and moved the Researcher around in order to get all the yellow cards in the hands of the Operations Expert. The Op Expert flew around putting up military stations (the other characters put down a couple stations with fortuitous city cards). We quickly discovered the cure for BSNL-419 and everyone other than the Quarantine Expert flew into Latin America (primarily Lima) and mopped up the yellow cubes and we easily won the game! Our use of previous game end developments, especially beneficial work on the BSNL-419 virus fit well with the March objective to eradicate one disease.
For our end game upgrades we decided to make our temporary research station in Baghdad a permanent station and to make our temp military base in Lima a permanent one. We have found that being able to move between research stations (every character) and military bases (only those with the green military icon) really speeds up getting to hot spots when their occur.
We never had a game of Pandemic Legacy go our way like this before and it felt good to get an easy win after the two disappointing losses in February. Of course, the Funded Event total will now go down to 6 cards (the reason the games gives is that the U.S. Congress thinks the CDC has a handle on these diseases so they can cut back funding) which will make the next month slightly harder to win. We found the addition of the military bases to be an unexpected and pleasant surprise. After all, it is possible with one version of Pandemic Legacy Season 1 to play the same game 24 times (twice per month) which would be a few too many games with exactly the same rules.
From our experience with the March episode, we are excited to keep playing Legacy and to see what twists April might bring. But for now we are going to bask in the glory of stopping the diseases and saving the planet from a horrific Pandemic!