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Pandemic Legacy - Session Reports

Pandemic Legcy is a new version of a popular board game. Unlike in Pandemic, actions taken in one game of Pandemic Legacy affect all future games. With sealed envelopes, stickers and other material, the game changes and the components are modified as it is played. At the end, the owner is left with their own unique (and still playable) version. 

Our Roving Reporter is providing us with updates of each gaming session, showing how his game is changing.

Overview

Its Pandemic as we know it and love it.

A significantly  larger map, makes it much more legible. An extra route out of Santiago makes slightly less remote or more accessible, which is not necessarily a good thing

The plague area is huge, with all sorts of empty space, that looks like it will soon be filled with stickers, prior to the first game, this is intriguing, after the first game it is just plain worrying

There are 5 Specialists [Medic, Scientist, Generalist, Dispatcher & Researcher] and 4 ordinary people, who have no special abilities, at all. Are you worried yet?
The playing pieces are plastic, which is not so nice as the wooden pieces, from the original but not to worry...

January

Its a standard game of Pandemic, with 5 specialists to choose from [Medic, Scientist, Generalist, Dispatcher & Researcher], with 4 of 8 Special Event cards to pick and 5 Outbreak cards to shuffle in.

We usually randomly pick our Specialist and Event Cards, so being told to think and then  choose what we want to do, only jacks up the tension.

We are locked, loaded and ready to inoculate, lets do this.

Usually, we also start in a random city, we don see why CDC should be in Atlanta and not Porton Down or somewhere suitably local for your home but we go with Atlanta.

Our team is the Medic, the Scientist, the Researcher and the Dispatcher. Our dirty cities are in South & North America, Yellow & Blue nicely clustered, with a few outliers in Red & Black.

Our hands have a lot of Red & Blue cards, so we spend the first 3 turns moving cards via the Researcher and keeping Yellow under control.

Red is building  up and we start to prepare an overwhelming response

Blue & Red are cured but not eradicated, Yellow is maintained and Black is ignored [only one single, one cube outbreak]

Two Outbreaks, one Red, one Yellow, we're not worried, the Medic is going to clean Eastern Asia, the rest of us will get down and dirty in South America & Africa, dealing with Yellow, until we have enough cards to cure it.

On the second outbreak, we are told to open one of the Secret Folders, the most prevalent disease, now has a name and takes twice as much to cure.

The Yellow Peril!!!

If Bogota or Sao Paul outbreak, we are doomed.

Quickly, we stop dawdling, get our moves on and get down to it, Yellow is easy to cure, we have more than enough cards, Black takes longer but we do it.

A good game, we played well and were lucky with the cards we got.

If we had lost this game, we could have played a second January game, then gone on to February, so it did not seem so bad.

Then we looked at our upgrade options.

If we had eradicated any of the viruses, we could have added beneficial mutations, we did'nt, oh well.

If we had built any research stations, we could have made them permanent, we did not do that either, sigh.

We could add Personality Upgrades to our characters, which we did

So, on reflection, January was a good game, we kept things under control, we have one slightly harder disease to deal with and have a better idea about campaign play.

We did not have to rip up and burn any of our characters, not kidding here, if they die in the game, they get ripped up and you have to use a civilian

As a special reward, we get to remove one cube, from anywhere on the map, before we start playing. I wasn't impressed either

Roll on February

February

(After coffee & donuts)

Setting up, nothing too exciting, a nasty cluster focussed on Mexico City but an otherwise even spread throughout the world.

We lose 2 event cards, because we were so successful in January. If we had failed, we would have gotten an extra 2 per fail, so if we failed both of January’s games, we would be starting with 8 event cards, I guess we are being punished, for being good at our jobs.

As a reward from January, we get to remove one cube from anywhere in the world, we de-escalate Mexico City

We open February’s briefing.

OMG!!!!!!

Things just got real, Yellow is now non treatable, this is bad. We are told to open the first surprise box, we are all secretly hoping for wee mushroom clouds, to signify thermonuclear cleansing but no, we get Quarantine counters, which although, not as good are suitably functional, we also get a new Specialist, the Quarantine Specialist, for once, the game is giving us something nice.

Its another quick game, we only have to cure the 3 non mutant diseases, we stick with our Specialists, we are focussed and get down to business straight away. Our primary aims are eradication but a few extra research stations would be nice. We eradicate Black & Blue.

We are ready to cure Red, should we flounce about building research stations and maybe eradicating Red too or should we just kill it, cure it and get out safely?

We chickened and cured it, then and there, we had had won, in one play through again.
For our 2 upgrades we took beneficial genetic mutations for Black & Blue.

We lose the last 2 Special Event cards, March is gonna be hard

...

What will March bring?

We have no Event cards, due to our previous success, which I have just realised, after several years of playing, means a shorter game.

What new horrors will March bring?

We have incurable Yellow and at the moment, only 1 research station. I think I will take the position of Fat Comptroller, to keep our long term plans active.

March

March, we now have the Quarantine Specialist, who is slightly altered from the original, Quarantine tokens & a new building, the Military base  and all the supporting rules amendments  
 
We set up the board, there is a nasty cluster of Yellow, in the 
northern Yellow zone, a 3 in Bogotá [again] and a few others spread around that area
 
We open our objectives and now have 3 of them, of which we only need to complete 2
I decide to resign my Scientist and take up the role of Quarantine Specialist, Yellow is too close to breaking out.
We romp through March, we are lucky, we have a good selection of cards, that allow us to cure and complete our other objectives, in double quick time

Success, for Storm Troop Axel
Roll on April

April I

3 games-3 successes, we have things down pat. We spend our victory points on Positive Mutations, we no longer need to be in a research station to cure Black, Blue or Red. Although we have no Event cards, we are sure if we stay focussed, we will be able to hold the line.

The set up again had a nasty clump in South America, with a 3 on Bogotá, are we being cursed by Llama riding Incan plague raiders? No Blacks, a heavy concentration of  Blues and a light sprinkling of Red

We pick the  same team as before, mainly to use the Quarantine Specialists remote Quarantine ability

A good start, Blue is cured but will take some time to clear as it has become quite widespread, Black is cured and Eradicated, Yellow is bubbling under but under control, ed is looking dodgy but nothing too bad, as yet. We prepare to shift our focus to Red. 

Outbreak!

On the second outbreak on this game, we have to do a major update.

The outbreak itself is bad, it lands on an already infected city [Manila] and blows out that whole sector, we have lost.

But, there is worse….

Yellow has mutated further and it now Zombifies people and the block are replaced with cute wee fluorescent figures. Anywhere that has a Zombie, is now permanently tainted with a sticker.

We have lost the game but the outbreak on South East Asia has long term ramifications of riots, lack of order and burnt research stations.

The outbreak takes so long to resolve, that I have time to go and make coffee for everyone and bring it back. 

We now have one lawless zone, where we cant build research stations and another that spews forth zombies that taint any cities they come into contact with.

On the plus side, we get 2 event cards for April's re-run 

April II

Our first loss, we are a bit rattled but hey, if you don’t want burnt, you shouldn’t dance in the bonfire?

The next set of upgrades are not so traumatic but we do have the Event, ‘Air strike’, this bodes ill. 
Military bases have some more utility and there are more upgrades available.

We set up and for once, Bogotá does not have 3 cubes\peoploids in it. We go for the same team as before, Quarantine, Dispatcher, Researcher & Medic. We build a permanent military base in Tehran, its central with good connections.

We need to resolve 2 of the 3 objectives [Eradicate 1, cure all 3 & Military Base in each zone]. We get off to a good start and with no bad luck, we should scrape through all 3.

Did I say bad luck?

An outbreak Jakarta, turns everything pear shaped, the kettle is whistling but not exploding, 2 instantaneous bad  cards that cause a spiralling outbreak, with Yellow peoploids getting to Chicago and tainting everything on the way and another close call for Red, a turn of peace and then another out break!!!!

Have we lost?

5 cities  have to be shuffled back to the Infect pile and 3 of them have 3 cubes, the other 2 are on 2 and there is lot of bacterial badness about to come.

A very focussed round of Quarantines, the two Dirty Cards are good, they both go to the cities that are at 2, we’ve survived.

Next player, boom, we cure the remaining disease, we’ve survived.!

For a laugh, we pick the 2 plague cards to see what would happen. Red would have run dry as would Yellow.

It was close, man, real close

We are back to no event cards and a whole lot of upgrades, at the start of May.

I wonder if a Thermo Nuclear solution will be given to us?  

May & June

2 losses in a row and the second loss was quite brutal, we still have time for a pint of espresso and a 3rd game.

More new options and character classes are available, including military gear & air strikes, the game is slowly moving away from curing the viruses, to controlling the situation to protecting the survivors, at all costs. A good few cities are on the verge of breaking down completely, which will remove them from the transport infrastructure AND not allow their cards to be swapped, this is particularly bad for us, as our Researcher perished in the last game.

We spend our reward points on permanent road blocks to stop disease escaping and military bases, to facilitate the use of our military classes.

We have our game faces on and play, we are finally up and working well, we each have our focus sorted and storm through it, with a good victory.

As the map and rules change, in not necessarily predictable ways, the style of play needed, has to evolve to keep up, the challenge remains and the excitement about what happens next, is almost as palpable as about how Jon Pertwee is going to avoid the Daleks next week

July

We spend our victory points on permanent roadblocks and permanent military bases

We open up the extras and are given more military equipment. There is a new mechanic, the ‘Search Process’, where we need to find a lost scientist in a faded city, on the plus side, it gives us a practical use for Yellow City cards [Yellow is the incurable nasty disease] on the down side, it gives us something else to do, when we are tight pressed, as it is.

We go for a new tactic, 2 military & 2 scientific characters, curing is important but maintaining control is more so.

We have a ‘good’ distribution of outbreaks, nothing too major, and nothing that will go bad, at least not too quickly, we hope.

We experiment with the Search function but don’t quite grasp it, we think it is a minor distraction, so abandon it.

It’s a hard, workman like game, no shocks, no emergencies, a good solid victory.

August

With our XPs, we build some more permanent military bases and some more permanent roadblocks
With our victory points, we but some character upgrades

August brings us another search task and a complication for Searching, every time there is an Outbreak, the search gets harder, not good but not really relevant? Then we see it, if one of our particular searches works out, we get a new character to play with, one who can deal with the snot ridden, in a positive way. We get 2 new military classes, who can deal with the snot ridden at bayonet point too.

August 1, a terrible set up with 2 triples and a double on Shanghai, Hong Kong and Osaka.
We struggle but get hit with an out break early on, we abandon all pretence at curing and just go for fire fighting, we lose

August 2, another search task is added and some more upgrades, a not quite so impossible set up, looks promising but we have our war heads on and even though the plague puts up a valiant struggle, we trounce it

Or do we?

If we can extend play for another complete round, we can eradicate Blue, which will allow us to treat it in a more efficient manner, with a game end bonus option. I chickened out and wanted the easy win but my team mates strong armed me into playing longer. 

Genuinely tense and nail biting, we have a Lucky Ace up our sleeve of removing a few infection cubes if we need it. One bad card will sink us. 

Tick tock, tick tock.

The plan worked!

We succeeded, we made it by the skin of our nicotine stained teeth.

Close, real close 

Oh yes, we now have a Thermo Nuclear Cleaning option

October 1

We focus on a search, for the Virologist, a very useful new class, we now have permament miltary bases in all 6 zones, so that counts as a victory towards 1 of our 3 victories per game. So to paraphrase, we have one victory in the bag and have to complete the cure on all 3 diseases and then pick a random one to give us victory.

We eradicate Blue & Black but lose out when Red goes crazy mental. We were only half way through the deck too!

We spend our upgrades on making Blue & Black easier to cure, to give us more flexibilty.

October 2

Even though we now have the Virologist, who seemed useful, we stick with our base characters, 2 military, 2 medical [Quaratine Specialist & Construction Dude] & [Researcher & Scientist]

We race through October 2, oddly, we only need the half the deck again

2 Quick games, with 2 vastly different results

Bring on November

November I

We spent one of our October upgrades on a ‘Kill’ option, where one of the characters, on leaving a fallen city kills a fallen inhabitant, we see this a brutal but necessary option, just in case…..

We decide to focus on the search for the missing soldier, who is in City Zero, which for us is Khartoum and is nicely situated for road blocks, military bases & infrastructure.

Khartoum starts with 3 faded figures, it looks like our gamble with the kill option paid off. The rest of the map is slightly imbalanced, with most of the rest of the infections being in South East Asia and South America, awkward but quite doable. We have our game faces on and set to it.

With remote quarantines and diligent work, we keep everything bubbling under. 2 quick outbreaks [Singapore & St Petersburg] are dealt with, we are still holding it together, just, we have completed 2 of our 3 goals and just need to cure 2 more diseases, one on the next player turn and the other, quite soon.

We shuffle the Dirty Deck and draw our 3 cards……

Singapore! South East Asia goes crazy and we run out of red cubes before we have even finished the first outbreak.

We have lost, we have run out of red cubes

We have 7 outbreaks on the board

How much worse could it get?

We decide to play it out, just to see.

Buenos Aries! South America goes Kaka, setting off another domino train of collapsing/rioting/falling/fallen cities

Card 3 is Ho Chi Min City [Saigon for those of us of a certain generation].

Since outbreaks and explosions have long term game effects, we have to play it out to see what of the world will be left, for our second November game?

The answer to that question is, ‘Mostly smoking ruins’

What I thought was quite a quick game turned out to be quite a long game, as I had not put the clock in the games room forward, oh well.

Since it is getting late and we probably need to prepare properly for next week, we decide to do the rules upgrades and bonuses now and start thinking.

Jings!

I am writing this on Wednesday morning, after playing on Monday night and my head is still spinning.

It turns out that the plagues & outbreaks are controlled by the NOW and it is all part of their master plan to take over the world.

One of our characters is executed [its one of the good ones, with lots of useful upgrades, who has been central to all of our plans], we now have the NOW to fight as well, our carefully constructed, easily defendable, inter supporting, string of military bases are now the enemy and will hinder our gameplay in the future.

Our Mission is changed, we must now build vaccine factories, distribute vaccines, & destroy military bases before they destroy us.

Our game playing expertise is being used against us, most of our carefully constructed fall back positions are now the enemy defences.

Wow! What a turn up, I’m still amazed.

November - Addendum

The Legacy Edition involves careful book keeping, which I failed to do.

I ‘think’ we have lost a month somewhere, certainly from the logs here, we have and we also missed out on 3 rules upgrades too.

If these had been suitably actioned, I think the ultimate board gaming experience of my life, would have been even better, I kid you not.

November 2

The NWO has sent us a cheeky note to say 'Thanks for all the hard work, you've made our job a lot easier'

In other news, there are now vaccine factories, that eliminate the Faded and if you vaccinate a Faded Free city, it becomes immune, forever. Finally, a break goes our way

Our missions are to destroy to destroy 2 Military bases, find the stash of vaccine and inoculate 7 faded cities.

We get a nice set up, it does not seem too bad and a good mix of cards, we set to it. Our luck runs out there, we have a bad run of plague cards, we have an unfortunate pair of outbreaks and it goes down, maybe a third of the way through the deck.

On reflection, i think we played a muddled game and that worked against us.

December 1

Any pretence at curing the other diseases is now gone, our missions are to find the stash and inoculate all faded cities

One of the downsides of the previous game was a lot of cities are now rioting or fallen, which makes them more difficult to get into and aid

We work hard and stay focussed, we inoculate all of Africa, that is faded and over the quarantine fence, various parts of North America and a chunk of South America.

We fight hard, we get a lot done but are sunk by an exploding triple in South America. It could have been a lot worse, since we have inoculated a lot of cities, they do not get reinfected but enough are free, to kill us

One game to go, I don't think we'll make it

Summary

In my hoose are 4 sets of shelves. 

The first set has un-played games, these are new games, unopened games or games we have not fully enough digested the rules, to hack our way through an attempt.

The second set of shelves has the un judged games, these are the games we can play and play quite well but have not made a live or die decision about.

The hallowed, third set of shelves is the well kent and loved games, where any night of indecision about playing off the second set of shelves is instantly resolved.

The fourth set is for non played games, these games won’t get played, for a variety of reasons, [unneeded complexity, slow speed of play, elongated set up and pack away time or just all in all dull games]

There is the cupboard where bad games go, this gets replenished when the 4th set of shelves are full.

There is also the Garden shed of games where....well, best not to talk about there, not on a games forum.

Anyway, the roundabout introduction is a very longwinded way of saying Pandemic Legacy is being transferred to the 4th set of shelves, with 1 game left to play.

It is a great game, genuinely exciting and tense to play but it needs the rigid discipline and focus, to actually play it, while you are on top form and you can actively remember all the peculiarities, of your own particular board. A sloppily played game will be disastrously disappointing.

It is definitely worth it, if you can organise your group, to play, however, if you have a bunch of free range neurotics like my group, 2 years on, you will still be waiting to finish.