If you have never played Pandemic before, I’d recommend that you do so. Over the years it has become one of our “go to” games when we are entertaining guests both because of its cooperative nature and relative shallow learning curve. That’s not to say the game is “easy”; on the contrary, it can be soul-destroyingly hard to win, but at least you’ll be able to commiserate with your teammates while the world succumbs to four separate extinction-level-event sized plagues simultaneously (Yay!)
But I’m not really here to talk about Pandemic, rather it is its shiny new cousin, Pandemic Legacy. This is my first experience playing a “Legacy” style game, which for veterans of pen-and-paper role-playing is a very familiar concept (the contiguous ‘campaign-based’ gaming experience). The appeal is that events in one gaming session influence the next, causing indelible changes to the board, cards, characters and even the core rules as play continues. At the end of a full 12 month cycle, the idea is that you’ve customized and hacked the board so much that you’d need to throw it out and buy a new one if you wanted to play the campaign again (presumably with some wildly different outcomes). At the conclusion of each session, you open up windows in a kind of advent calendar to reveal new information that will shape the trajectory of the game moving forward.
With Pandemic Legacy you are presented with an ongoing Pandemic “story” that continues over a number of gaming sessions. It charts the work of your intrepid team of CDC early responders as they jet around the world squashing plague outbreaks and desperately researching cures for said plagues. The deeper into the campaign you get, the plagues begin to take on some personality, becoming persistent villains that harass you constantly. Your team evolves too, gaining new skills and character options over time. Every bit of it is necessary to keep the Grim Reaper at bay.
Our group just made it through the month of February last weekend in surprisingly good shape (though it must be said, we’ve muffed the rules a couple of times already so I’m pretty sure at least one or two of our characters should be dead by now — but we won’t let details like that get in the way of our fun. Besides, everyone ought to be dead by May anyway). The untreatable “Coda” virus threatens to destroy all of South American and Africa, but don’t worry, stud medic Chet Tango is on the case. The world can sleep easy.
Anyhow, Pandemic is fun (assuming you don’t let the subject matter get you down) and Pandemic Legacy is funner. Fun also. Perhaps more fun. Try it!