Board Game Battles: Pandemic Legacy vs Pandemic Legacy

In the vein of classic wrestling of Jeff Hardy feuding with Matt Hardy, we get two season of Pandemic Legacy. Season 1 vs Season 2, which of the two in the family line will be supreme?

Let’s start by talking about their father, Pandemic. Pandemic is a cooperative game where you are playing members of the CDC (Center of Disease Control), trying to stop outbreaks from happening around the world. You spend time researching cures, stopping outbreaks from happening, and keeping the diseases from spreading too far. It’s a fully cooperative game and not extremely difficult, though, I like to play on what I call hard mode, because in the game you just have to cure the diseases not eradicate them from the earth, because clearly that will happen. I like to do t he eradication step as well.

Image Credit: Game Base

So this is going to be somewhat light on how the whole game is because they are legacy games. A legacy game is a game where as you play it you make active changes to the game. This could be adding more stickers to the board, adding more rules to the game, or by having you tear up cards or remove pieces from the game. Each copy of a legacy game is going to end up as unique, because how I play a game and how you play a game are going to be different. With that out of the way, let’s meet the contenders.

Pandemic Legacy Season 1

Building off of the base game, you play as members of the CDC who are fighting back diseases. Things go south when a new super disease is released on the world.

And that’s all I can tell you about the story of the game without spoiling anything. I would assume a lot of people have played through it already who are going to read this, but if you haven’t, I don’t want to spoil anything.

Mechanically, the game is very similar to the original Pandemic game at the start. You are trying to fend off diseases, cure them, and keep outbreaks from happening. From there it builds out though with a lot of different options and changes to the game. This game very much feels like Pandemic throughout the full play of the game.

Pandemic Legacy Season 2

Whereas the first season and the base game are about stopping things from spreading by removing cubes from the board, Pandemic Legacy Season 2 starts with you trying to keep things on the board.  Not diseases, but supply cubes that keep diseases from showing up in the towns on the map.

It’s the distant future in Season 2, and the Earth has been ravaged by a plague sometime before. You are some of the few survivors who live on havens in the middle of the ocean. You know of a few coastal towns and you are trying to keep them from collapsing by helping them with supplies to keep the plague from spreading into their cities.

This game has a different feel, the mechanics are in some ways the inverse of the first season and of the base game. It’s a challenge running around and keeping cubes on the board. With that, you are also trying to build up research facilities and find new cities on the map. I would say that with these changes of mechanics, it still feels like a game of Pandemic though.

Compare/Contrast

Man, it’s hard to write that much about these games without giving spoilers. Obviously one of the biggest differences is in how the mechanics work. It takes a little while to wrap your head around having to place cubes, but the mechanic is pretty similar in how it plays out. As you add more rules into each game, the variety causes them to feel significantly different. The story aspect is also fairly similar with things happening at the start of each month. However, in the second season of Pandemic Legacy, the story feels more compressed, mainly that they have tried to add in a fair amount more story. I’ll talk more about that in a little bit. Another similarity between both is the role selection of the game. Each character in the game has their own unique powers. That makes each persons role in the game feel unique. Even if you are planning out everyone’s turns as a group, which Pandemic allows for that discussion aspect really well, you still feel like your character can do something unique. Finally, the exploration aspect of Pandemic Season 2 instead of the curing and researching diseases in Season 1 makes both of them feel more unique.

Best Parts of Each Game

Pandemic Legacy Season 1 – For this one, I think that the story is what makes this game strong. A lot of the time, it just feels like you are playing base Pandemic with this game, with variations on things that would be spoilers to you. However, Season 1 has a very strong story and does well with you knowing the mechanics, so you can jump into the game easily.

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 – With Season 2, I think the thing that impressed me most was the ability to still feel like Pandemic and be familiar while having a fairly different rule set. The mechanics were clearly built off of a similar base of action and action economy, so even though you are doing something different, it still felt like a Pandemic game. With that said, it also didn’t feel like it was just Pandemic Legacy Version 2.  Because of the different mechanics, it had a unique feel to it.

Image Source: Z-Man Games

Worst Parts of Each Game

Pandemic Legacy Season 1 – I’m actually not sure I have one for this game. If I were to knock it for anything, it maybe plays it a little bit too safe at times mechanically. I get why they did it though, because the only previous legacy game was Risk Legacy, and that one didn’t venture to far afield from risk, just made it into a playable game (oooh, controversy). But it felt like they could have taken a few more risks with the game and introduced something fairly different into the game, instead of something that felt pretty similar.

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 – This one is also hard to find an issue with, but one piece that I did notice is that it felt like they tried to put too much story into the game. There are timing mechanisms that you need to complete certain things at certain times to keep the story progressing, otherwise they just progress it for you. I don’t feel like it’s all that strong with how that works, and with the twists in the story, once you hit the first twist, you know what the second one is going to be, which kind of kills some of the end of the game surprise that you’d get otherwise.

And the Winner Is:

Pandemic Legacy Season 1

Image Source: Polygon

This was just an awesome game, with a great story. It was what I wanted, a game that was easy to pick up because I already know how to play it. It also changed nicely and progressed nicely and didn’t add in too many new rules too quickly. And the first game with the story, you knew a twist would be coming, but you weren’t looking for it as much as I was subconsciously in the second season.

Both games are definitely worth a play through though. They  make smart decisions with both of them and they both have compelling stories that make you want to play more than a single game in a sitting. These games are also great, because you always feel like things could have gone a slightly different way and you would have be able to win. And there is going to be a third season, but no fourth, so once the third comes out, you’ll know how many you have to buy. So next year or whenever the new comes out, we might see a rematch, but this time a Triple Threat match.


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