Best Play Recommends: Pandemic Legacy
What: The premium TV box-set of board games that is one of the most exciting and unique experiences you can have.
Time: about an hour each time you play, but you’ll play it between 12–24 times
People: A small group of close friends who are happy to meet regularly and work together well. Also especially good for couples.
Available: If it’s in stock US here and UK here
Why we recommend it
Pandemic Legacy is one of the hardest games to talk about because, like many of the greatest bits of entertainment, the joy is discovering the surprises for yourself. Here is what I can say about it though.
The game begins as a regular game of Pandemic, the wonderful co-op game about saving the world from the outbreak of disease. For many, it will be your first time playing a game with your friends rather than against them. It’s a perfect game to play with people who are too competitive… or not competitive enough.
Then there’s the twist. How you get on in the first game you play will affect every other time you play it. Cities riot, roads become blocked and characters can die permanently. I’d love to tell you more, but that would be ruining the surprise.
Pandemic Legacy takes place over ’12 months’. Each month is a separate play session (and sometimes you will need to repeat a month if things go really bad). As you progress through the calendar, the story will unfold and new mechanics become unlocked.
At the end of each session you excitedly open hidden boxes to uncover the next nasty set of bad luck to fall upon your team.
New characters, special moves and huge changes to how the game works await you as you desperately try to work together to keep the world just about alive.
Every month you will be telling the story of your heroic scientists, hardened soldiers and brave researchers as you try to fight the mutation.
It’s unlike anything else you’ve ever played. The game actually has a plot, and although it’s no Breaking Bad, it’s impressive how well it slots together given so few games attempt to tell a story at all. Better still, you are actively creating the story as you go. The events that unfold in your game are unique to your team, leaving every group that plays it with a compelling set of war stories to share.
For us, Africa soon became a write-off. Johannesburg was declared a danger-zone early on, and we decided to effectively seal off Kinshasa from the world. Sorry, guys.
London, Paris and Madrid were kept safe for the entire year, without even the suggestion of unrest or disaster. Things got pretty bad in South America, and by the midpoint we had to abandon traditional medicine and start recruiting members of the military to help us get a hold of the situation.
Others we know had a very different set of experiences, with Europe soon declared a no-go area and Jakarta representing a last bastion of safety for the struggling crew.
You are going to be sticking things to the board as cities slowly fall into riots. You’ll be writing the names of your characters and diseases onto the board. You’ll find scratch cards, taunting you with their hidden secrets and rewards, unavailable until you’ve done enough in the game to attack them with a coin.
You’ll even start ripping up cards that are no longer relevant, and killing off characters too weak to survive. That’s right, some things can’t be undone.
It took Best Play seven real life months, across eight individual sessions to finally reach the end. I’d hazard that it’s probably more hours invested than any other game we own. Once December is over, you’re done with it — but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s not excellent value for money.
Once it’s complete, you’ll have encountered one of the best gaming experiences it’s possible to have, along a journey that no other set of players in the world has exactly matched.
There’s little more to say that I haven’t already, at least not without ruining it.
So do yourself a favour. Pick the bravest, most reliable friends you have and get started. The world needs you.