On the Brink: Life After Legacy

DISCLAIMER: While this post will try its best not to spoil any information about Pandemic: Legacy, one of our writers (not naming any names [It’s Amber]) has been known to accidentally spill information beyond their control.  Read at your own risk.

One of my most rewarding game playing experiences to date (and will probably remain this way for a very long time) is Pandemic: Legacy. The combination of the game itself, the format of the game, and the people I played it with provided a rewarding and memorable experience. Pandemic: Legacy is a stand alone game in the Pandemic universe with Legacy-style play.  This means that through the sessions of gaming, players will be forced to make changes to the game itself by adding or removing things to the game.  This could be anything from writing on cards, adding marks to the board, destroying pieces of the game, and anything else that might make a gamer squeal in agony.

Much like its predecessor Pandemic, Pandemic: Legacy involves players taking on different scientific roles to try to cure 4 different diseases that are spreading all over the world.  Each role has a different special ability that allows players to do special actions, as well as the actions everyone has access to.  This game is fully cooperative and players work together to strategize how best to cure and eradicate the different diseases.  Unlike the regular base game, however, Pandemic: Legacy plays over 12 months, adding a story to the already thrilling (a nice way of saying stressful) burden of saving the world.

We’ve had three different groups of people in our game group complete their teams’ games of Pandemic: Legacy and I’ve heard similar sentiments from members of all three groups: “I don’t think I can play regular Pandemic after this.”  At the time of this posting, Pandemic has been out for 8 years and remains popular with game groups.  The game has evolved in these 9 years, reformatting the box, adding expansions, developing a dice game and finally creating a Legacy addition.  When Ethan and I began our Legacy adventure, neither of us had played anything besides the base game and The Cure (the Pandemic dice game), so there was still a lot of Pandemic for us to play; it would be unfair to count the game out without actually having played everything there is to offer.

Since finishing Legacy, we’ve acquired the On the Brink and In the Lab expansions to our Pandemic collection.  I believe that even after the mind blowing experience that was Pandemic: Legacy, there is still room for Pandemic in our collection.  Pandemic is a great gateway game for beginners to get into the hobby and the expansions add replayability to the original game.  I think we’ll be holding on to this one a bit longer, at least, until Season 2 comes out.

Ethan here – I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment.  Even after playing Legacy I still very much enjoy the “vanilla” game of Pandemic.  It was one of the earliest co-operative games, and the impact its had on the genre can be seen in many other games.  It’s an elegant and balanced game of players vs. the game, and it’s easy to see why it’s both a good intro game and one that many people continue to rate highly even after being in the hobby for a while (it was #1 on the Dice Tower People’s Choice Top 100 Games list from last year).  Even with the base game there are ways to change the difficulty by adding or removing Epidemic cards (the ones that periodically cause diseases to spring up in new places and reshuffle the discards so that previously infected cities come up again).

With the expansions there are even more modules you can add, such as Virulent Strain and the Mutation challenge from On the Brink, and the Lab Challenge from In the Lab.  Any of these can be added to the base game, or you could add them all for a really intense challenge.  In addition, there’s a Bio-Terrorist mode where one player plays against all of the rest to cause disease and destruction, and a team game where all players are still working to cure the diseases but also trying to score the most points for their team.  In addition to all this, there’s still the State of Emergency expansion that adds even more different challenges, but which we’ve never experienced, so I can’t comment on it.  With all of these different modules to change up the difficulty, add different goals, or even changing the players’ roles and interactions, I’d argue that Pandemic is still highly playable even after finishing the Legacy campaign.  And besides, there’s always Season 2 of Legacy to look forward to, so hopefully people are only exaggerating when they say they’re burned out on Pandemic after Legacy!

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An Introduction

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Or, How We Became Meeples

When we first met, I wouldn’t have called us “Gamers.”  I had experience in high school playing Lunch Money and Euchre, as well as other card games while stuffing myself with food.  In college, I moved onto playing Munchkin between classes and casually playing Magic the Gathering.  I had really moved away from gaming of all kinds until 2013, when Ethan and I were in full swing and we decided to play Risk together (his roommate at the time asked if our plan was to stay together, har har).  I, of course, won. (That’s how I remember it anyway.) [If I recall, we never finished.]

I remember a lot of gaming in my childhood; mostly the old standbys like Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble with family, but the occasional foray into more “gamery” games as well (I fondly recall playing HeroQuest with my older brother when I was probably around 6 or 7.  As the game master he definitely cheated in my favor and let me win more than I should have).  In high school and college, I was more active in tabletop RPGs than board games, having played D&D a few times in high school and running through a campaign of the Star Wars RPG in college.  I did have a few experiences with modern board games at conventions or game nights at work, but never really had anyone to play many games with until I met Amber, and even then we started with a lot of the classics that we found at Goodwill for a few bucks.

That following winter, we attended the UK Expo in Milwaukee, a small convention of just a few hundred people.  Ethan was experienced, having attended Anime Conventions in the past, but for me, this was my first exposure into the more geeky side of things.  Game Rooms were a new concept for me, but this kind group welcomed us with open arms, starting us out with a game of Munchkin, moving us on to Red Dragon Inn and ending our time with Revolution! the board game. [We may have also played Dominion.]

After that weekend, we had an itch that we couldn’t scratch (only in the best and most innocent way, of course), our classic board games and the games for two just couldn’t fulfill us anymore, so we set out to see if there were any board games groups in our area.  One very short Google search later, we found a group called The Janesville Pegheads on Meetup.com. (Shameless plug)  In the year following our first meetup (October 8, 2014), we have gone from about 30 classic games to a collection of almost 300 classic and hobby games and expansions, not to count the experiences and friends we’ve gained along the way.  I personally look forward to our next gaming adventure: writing about games, tournaments, and our experience along the way.

I never would have imagined that we could get so deep into the board gaming hobby so quickly, but it has certainly been a fun and rewarding experience.  We have an awesome community of gamers that can come together with the common goal of playing games, having fun, and making friends (shamelessly paraphrased from the Janesville Pegheads slogan).  Like Amber, I’m looking forward to chronicling our further adventures in gaming, and reviewing the games, events, and anything else that we encounter this year and in the years to come.