As this is a spoiler free review, I can't go into the changes that will occur. Believe me, you won't want to know. What makes Pandemic Legacy so appealing and original are the surprises and extra elements that get thrown at you from game to game. I've played through one third of the game, and the game at its base is still the same Pandemic that we know and love. You'll still be curing diseases, removing disease cubes, and watching the world crumble around you while your friends succumb to whatever disease you might have decided. But there will be so many delicious trimmings and trappings on top of an already wonderful game that you might forget there was a regular Pandemic game before Legacy. Which is both the strongest aspect of Pandemic as well as one of my gripes with the game. But we'll get to that in a minute, because first I want to take the time to tell you the single most important thing I can about this game: I want to be playing it right now. Don't get me wrong, I love writing about table top games, I'd love to make a living doing so (hint hint winky face cosmic powers that be), but every sentence I write, every keystroke, is a moment I'm not spending playing Pandemic Legacy. It is by far my favorite game of the year and quite possibly the favorite game in my collection. Or should I say my wife's collection. I got it for her birthday, and well what's mine is hers and what's hers is hers. So even my games are technically part of her collection.
I am writing this review after completing 1/3 of the overarching campaign found in Pandemic Legacy, and I am planning on doing two more reviews, one after we've finished 2/3, and again after we've finished the game, because there is just so much happening that could change my opinion of the game. We've been through roughly 1/3 of the surprises that the game has to offer, and I couldn't be more pleased. It is of coursed designed by Pandemic's original creator, Matt Leacock, and he knows how to take the beautiful game he created and use that against you, the players. He knows that you've probably played a game or two of Pandemic before, and he uses that against you. A few of the surprises that came our way in the first couple of games were like a calling card from the creator saying "I knew what you were thinking... and it's not gonna be that easy."
But strip away all the delightful surprises, the dossier doors that could hide any number of nastiness, the eight additional component boxes that you open when certain conditions are met (seriously, Pandemic Legacy is like Christmas, unknown boxes for you to shake and guess at their contents), strip all that away, and the game is still among the best in the business. The original Pandemic is still one of my favorite games, and why? Because what you do in your turn matters. You could travel to London and cure that disease, but if you do that, you are traveling away from Bogota, which needs your attention just as much. Why London? Why do the people of Bogota have to suffer? Or maybe you could use one of your precious cards to fly to a heavily infected city to cure it, but you need that card to cure the disease, so you have to leave it. Or perhaps you make the sacrifice, fly to the city and stop an outbreak from occurring, but now you've wasted precious time that could have been spent researching the cure. Or is that time wasted? See, all these decisions you make each turn are important, not only to the outcome of the game, but to you as a person. It will be heart wrenching to see a city you've visited, or even worse, the city in which you live, fall to disease. It sounds silly, but its true. When you play Pandemic, you develop an attachment to these cities and imaginary people. And Pandemic Legacy takes these feelings and turns them up to eleven.
Alright ladies and gentlemen, pull up your skirts. I know I said this was a spoiler free review, but I'm going to show you something. Just a little something. It's something you've seen before if you've played Pandemic, but you've never seen it quite like this. I'm not going to show you WHAT any of the surprises are... I'm going to show you where some of those surprises might go... Ok, how bout I justify it this way: if you were a person who had never played Pandemic, and I were to show you a picture of this same thing from the original game, I would not feel as though I were spoiling anything. So ok... do you trust me? Take a gander:
*Sound effect for mind being blown*. Yes, you name your characters. In ink. Permanently. So little Jenny, fresh out of Scientist University for Sciencey People, is not just some nameless pawn in your game. When things happen to Jenny, and believe me they will, you will watch her transform and grow into an entirely different person. See the top two bars on the second page? Those are for relationships. Over the course of the game, Jenny may form relationships with other characters. See those middle two bars? Those are for character upgrades. Jenny may learn to do something better than other characters, apart from her already awesome ability to Discover a Cure faster! And lastly... oo lastly... do you see those two final bars? Those scars are acquired when Bad Stuff happens. I won't tell you what Bad Stuff happens, but in a game about diseases threatening to wipe out all of humanity it isn't hard to imagine that Bad Stuff is Really Bad Stuff. Jenny may be altered by the events of the game that will leave her scarred in some way that changes her forever. She may even die. And then Jenny becomes just one more casualty of the war on disease, a blank white cross in a field full of crosses. Did that metaphor make you feel sad, make you feel something for Jenny? Why? She's just a piece of paper! And the lives you may or may not save during the course of your game are not actual lives! But you will care. Pandemic Legacy (and regular Pandemic Lite for that matter) makes you care about these nonexistent people, these cardboard creations, because they grow and change with you as you play the game. Sure you cared when you played Pandemic Decaff, but Legacy really forces you to get to know your character, to feel triumphant when they succeed and to feel despondent when they fail. And that is what makes Pandemic Legacy... wait for it... Legen... wait for it again... containing milk. Oh wait, dairy. Shoot, I messed up the line again!
My one gripe with the game is that it suffers from Too Much Syndrome (which consequently would be a great name for one of your diseases, should you decide to play this game). So much gets added on it can be hard to keep track of, and the game even has the wherewithal to let you know of this possibility. It says that if you miss something, forget a rule, skip a step etc., to try and correct it as best you can, but in the end to not dwell on it too much. After all, it's just a game right? Go save the world.
Thanks for reading 2 To 4 Players review of exactly 1/3 of Pandemic Legacy. Keep your eyes peeled for the 2/3 review (hint hint we've already gotten started and I'm already itching to write some more). If you like what we've been doing here on 2 To 4 Players, give us a like on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to the blog. If you don't like it, or if you have some suggestions, let us know, we want to make this blog as entertaining, informative, and worthwhile as we can, and your feedback helps. So thank you, and Play On!