Review – Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

Cover art PLS1

 

Designer Rob Daviau, Matt Leacock

Artist Chris Quilliams

Publisher Z-Man Games

Category Legacy

Length 30-60 min

Release Date 2015

Player Count 1-4

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 took the tabletop world by storm when it came out in 2015. It built off the basic gameplay of Pandemic, progressively and palatably added nuance and complexity, and gave players a co-op campaign experience that took place outside a fantasy-themed dungeon. 6 years later, it’s still ranked the #2 game overall on BoardGameGeek.

[Disclaimer: This review is based off my playthrough of Pandemic Legacy Season 1 with my wife. I will endeavor to be as spoiler-free as possible, using only information from the first game. Moreover, this review will focus on the legacy aspects of Season 1. If you’re unfamiliar with Pandemic, I would recommend checking out a review of the base game.]

Review  

Players who have played Pandemic will find the first game of Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 familiar. They work together to move their pawns around the board, remove disease cubes, and eventually try to collect enough sets of cards to cure the diseases and win the game. However, because Season 1 is a legacy game, between and sometimes even during games players will write on the board, place stickers, and add additional components and rules to change the game permanently.

 

Season 1 is played over a series of 12 game months. There are 2 games each month, but if players win the first game in the month, they move on to the next month. This means a campaign will last anywhere between 12 and 24 games. The game will change from month to month, so don’t expect to play the same game twice.

Something important to keep in mind about Season 1 is that players can only play through the game once. Players will rip up game components, place stickers on the board, open up cardboard boxes of goodies, and write on cards, so there is limited replay value after the campaign is over. (Although a completed game can be played as a modified version of regular Pandemic.)

The game includes sheets of stickers and dossiers for players to discover and interact with.

Don’t let that dissuade you though. The beauty of a legacy game is that each gaming experience feels like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The rules will change, so you must enjoy every moment of each playthrough.

Season 1’s story and gameplay are engaging in ways that are difficult to replicate. Players will encounter major plot twists, gain satisfying power-ups, and solve intriguing mysteries. The loveliness of a legacy game is that the decisions made in one game impact future games. Players will be able to upgrade their player cards and even the game board itself through upgrade points.

My wife and I often found ourselves in situations where we needed to make a decision to either win our current game now, which would make the next game harder, or push our luck just a little on the current game to try and make the next game easier. Those tantalizing decisions are wonderful, and while you can definitely make mistakes, the game always remains enjoyable.

Note the undiscovered goodies. Over half of the game box is dedicated to components, cards, tokens, etc. that players will unlock throughout the campaign. 

The components of Season 1 are exactly what players would expect from a Pandemic game: high-quality and functional. What impressed me was that the pieces added to the game throughout the campaign were all high-quality as well. Nothing felt cheap, not even the components specifically made for Season 1 (there are some cardboard tokens, but they weren’t used enough for us to wish they were plastic or wood). The artwork is solid and it represents the story and world well.

The two-player experience of Season 1 felt largely similar to how a two-player game of standard Pandemic feels. We found that mobility was incredibly important and that if we were going to be successful, we needed to build research stations quickly so we could cure diseases right when we had the necessary cards.

The story itself is intriguing and fun. Without spoiling it, players can expect mystery-solving, plot twists, and a thoughtful story arc that manifested itself in the gameplay. It rarely felt like we were playing a re-skinned game for each new story development; rather, it felt like playing a refreshingly nuanced game for each new story development.

Pandemic Legacy Season 1 is #2 on Board Game Geek for a reason. Drive to your local board game store and buy it if it sounds even remotely interesting. The experience is worth it. 

The Bottom Line

Drive to your local board game store and buy it. The experience is worth it. 

 

9.5

spencer
Author: Spencer Patterson

I'm a teacher, writer, and board game reviewer. I especially love board games that pull me in like a good book. My wife is my favorite gaming partner.