This Pandemic Legacy review was made after completing the campaign.
What is Pandemic Legacy?
Pandemic Legacy is a cooperative campaign game designed by Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau and published by Z-Man Games. The game plays very similarly to the original Pandemic, but a story plays out over a year and you have to complete unique objectives as the months pass.
There is no difference between the red and blue versions of Pandemic Legacy.
Pandemic Legacy Gameplay
If you know how to play Pandemic, then you should have absolutely no problem playing Pandemic Legacy. The basic rules of Pandemic Legacy are the same as the original Pandemic, but the game evolves as you play through each session.
Throughout Pandemic Legacy, you and your teammates will be moving around the world attempting to cure diseases and prevent a global outbreak from occurring. This is a fully collaborative, so you can help each other out by talking about the best ways to deal with each disease.
The whole game lasts one year, but each session will cover one month of that year. If you lose, you’ll go back and do that month over again. If you lose during that month a second time, you’ll move on to the next month. This means that the whole game could last just 12 sessions (good luck pulling that off!), or you could play up to 24 games.
So what else makes this version of Pandemic different? Well, the world changes through each playthrough/month, so you’ll have different rules to follow and more obstacles in your way. Some cities will start to panic and will be tougher to treat, your characters will gain new abilities, stickers will be introduced, cards will be ripped up, and a whole lot of other fun stuff. The legacy deck, which is where you’ll find out about most of these changes, is what really makes Pandemic Legacy different than the original Pandemic.
I don’t want to go into spoiler territory, so that’s where I’m going to end this gameplay overview. Again, check out the Pandemic review if you want to learn the basics of the Pandemic system.
- The legacy system works extremely well in Pandemic Legacy. Those surprises that you grab from the secret boxes and dossiers add a new type of tension never seen in a co-op game before. They change the look of the game and give you new ways to attempt to try to solve the Pandemic puzzle.
- There is a much bigger storytelling element to Pandemic Legacy than in base Pandemic, and it’s a very good story. Your team can change as you move through the months and the events that occur will make you feel like you’re inside of an original disaster movie.
- Something else that was very impressive to me was that just about every game seemed to go down to the wire. Regardless of whether we were successful or had to re-play a month, the games were always challenging without feeling like they were impossible to solve. That must have taken the designers a long time to get just right.
- The theme works well for the base game, so it’s no surprise that it also works in this legacy version. Everyone can get behind saving the world from highly contagious diseases and it creates a story that you will definitely remember.
- The legacy system also makes it so every group gets a unique experience. Your map will end up looking very different from everyone else’s and it seems like every group has a different story to tell after they finish their campaigns.
- The rule changes throughout the game are awesome. At first it’s regular Pandemic with a story and a few other tweaks, but it very quickly evolves into a whole new game. My group got so excited every time we knew that we’d be drawing from that legacy deck.
- Just like in the original Pandemic, you can run into quarterbacking issues while playing Pandemic Legacy. The rules say that everyone should keep their hands of cards face-up, so it’d be easy (and tempting) for someone to try to tell the other players what to do on their turns. To avoid that, I recommend playing with hidden hands unless you’re playing with new gamers or younger kids.
- Some of the rules that were introduced weren’t completely clear to us. That forced us to house rule a couple of things because we didn’t want to look those rules up online and unintentionally get spoilers.
The original Pandemic is one of my group’s favorite cooperative board games, so it should come as no surprise that we were also huge fans of Pandemic Legacy. I still think the original Pandemic with the On the Brink expansion is the best way to play a one-off game of Pandemic, but I can see why so many people think Pandemic Legacy is one of the best board games ever made. As far as campaign gaming experiences go, this is right up there near the top for my group.
Whether you’ve played the original Pandemic or not, you really have to give Pandemic Legacy a try. It’s fun just like the original, but it comes with a whole bunch of nice surprises. There’s really no other board game out there like it right now.