I don’t really think I planned on going with some board game history and mechanic posts for a series, but I liked how the previous one turned out, and I thought it would be interesting to look at some more mechanics in that in-depth a […]
Tag: Legacy Games
This won’t be a full review, as I’ve only played the first scenario in Gloomhaven, but I’ve done it twice, since we didn’t win the first time. But I did want to get up some initial thoughts quickly.
Legacy Game vs. Dungeon Crawler
One of the things I wanted to talk about was where this game fits on the game spectrum. The reason I want to do that is that oftentimes, people say “Oh, this game is X type of game,” and try to stick something into a single category. But Gloomhaven can be compared to both legacy games and dungeon crawlers. There are things about it that are typical of legacy games — for example, you can upgrade cards and place stickers on them. Even if you go back and play the same class again later, the cards still have the stickers on them, and that will be impact your game. At the same time, this doesn’t fit so well into the legacy game category when compared to true legacy games like Pandemic Legacy or Seafall. Unlike these, Gloomhaven can be played through again, and actually seems to have solid replay value, in my opinion. In fact, at some point I’ll probably start streaming a solo playthrough if I have time (but I want to get further ahead first, and I’m going to have 7th Continent to stream first), and it’ll be different, because I can pick different starting classes and swap in different abilities. And the game is also a dungeon crawler in that you are going through various dungeons and scenarios, and fighting and killing bad guys. But it isn’t just that, because the world changes and your party changes in those legacy-style ways I mentioned. And there is just a feeling of more when compared to a dungeon crawler like Shadows over Brimstone, which is still a fun game, but Gloomhaven just feels like more than your standard.
Eurogame vs. Amerithrash/Ameritrash
I know the term is Ameritrash, but I feel like Amerithrash is a more fun term to describe the same thing. So with that out of the way, what do I mean when I use that term? It’s a style of game that is quite strategic in terms of combat. And while it doesn’t have the Eurogame point salad like you can end up with — here’s a point, there’s a point, everybody gets a point — Gloomhaven has a strategic level that allows you to plan more and be less swingy than in an Amerithrash game. However, it still has the “kill the bad guys, grind it out, go in guns blazing” feel that I expect from Amerithrash games. And there are some swinging points in the game, and your best laid plans might not work out as well as you had hoped. This game walks a line of being something that can be highly strategic and could be looked at as simply a puzzle, but that also feels like, if you divorced the theme and epicness from it, it wouldn’t carry the same weight.
Battle is a Blast
In my opinion, one of the coolest parts of the game is having your own unique class-based combat deck of cards. You have access to your full collection of combat cards, specific to each character. This means when I’m playing my character, it feels different than when someone else is playing theirs, and after playing once, or maybe twice, you know what your character is good at and how they work. Each combat card has a top and bottom half, and you play out two of them each round. You are going to do the top of one and the bottom of the other. When you put them down, you select one of the cards to give you your initiative value. That is an interesting thing in that, most of the time, you want to go fast before the bad guys can get a chance to go, but to set up combos with other characters, a very fast character might have to go slower to get that benefit. That makes it quite strategic, and because you’re on the same side, you can talk about it, but you can’t give specifics. You can’t say, I’m going to move 4 spaces and then do 3 damage to that guy. You can say something like, I’m going to go as quickly as I can and rush that skeleton and try and take him out. But you never know if what you have planned is going to work. Maybe the monsters go before you and they move and ruin your plan. Or maybe an ally does, even if you’ve tried to talk it through. But even when you’ve picked which parts of which cards you want to use, you can always swap that around. Or maybe the attack you planned that would get rid of your card for the scenario isn’t worth it anymore — if that happens, you can always just do a basic attack instead. This helps with analysis paralysis, as you always have something to do.
You’re Running out of Time
With the combat deck for each character, it also works as a timing mechanism for how long you can keep going in the battle. Eventually, you’ll run out of cards. Cards you’ve discarded can come back to your hand, but at a cost. Either you take a short rest and randomly lose one of those cards, or you take a long rest, which takes your whole next turn. If you take a long rest, you get to choose the card you lose and gain some health, which is often key, but it costs you a turn, and you then take your turn at the end of the round, so you’d better not be in a spot where you might just creamed damage-wise if you really need to heal up. This causes each decision to have a lot more pressure, because when you’re out of cards and you can’t play two anymore, you are out of the scenario and can’t help your teammates anymore. This is also made trickier because your best cards, when you use them for their best feature, don’t go into the discard pile — they are lost right away, so that can speed up how long you are able to hang on in combat. It’s a very cool timing mechanism that really forces you to think and makes you feel the pressure of beating the scenario quickly.
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So, if you follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Nerdologists/), you’ve seen me posting news about the newest season of Pandemic Legacy. I wanted to talk about the legacy games that Kristen and I’ve played thus far, and what we’ve found that works in these games and makes them good. And then go into some games that I wouldn’t mind seeing turned into a legacy game that I own and how that might work.
What is a Legacy Game
Legacy board games are games where you play for a certain number of times or until certain conditions are met, but each time you play you are updating the board/cards. This means that the game evolves and changes each time that you play it. So your experience playing the game will be different than anyone else’s experience with the game. It also means that you’ve bought a board game that you can only play a limited number of times.
Why would I want to do that?
Because these games are capable of having a bigger and grander feel than other games. There is a consistent story and decisions feel like they are more important. So even though you can’t play it as many times as a normal board game, legacy games have more of an experience as you play it.
What are some of the good/bad things we’ve seen?
So, thus far there are three true legacy games, Risk Legacy which we haven’t played, Pandemic Legacy Season 1 and Seafall both of which we either have played, are playing, or will shortly be playing again. Pandemic Legacy is going to be where most good things come from, though as compared to our game group, I don’t mind Seafall as much as some of them do.
- Having a good/epic feeling story
- Feeling the pressure of the story
- Consistently progressing story
These are all important things that I would say make a good legacy game. When you have an idea of what is happening and the story is always moving forward at a consistent pace no matter if you win or you lose, there isn’t any point where you stagnate. It is also important for each of your decisions to feel important, but for there to be some story direction as to why you might want to head in a certain direction.
- Poorly Written rules/spelling errors
- Inconsistent story pacing
- Too many options without enough direction
So, these are all things that Seafall does, in spades. If you decide to play Seafall, look up a how to play youtube video to learn, don’t look at the rules, unless you are a seasoned gamer and patient you won’t learn from them. Also, if you have an analysis paralysis player in your normal game group consider having them not play, or at least be aware the game will come to a halt for five to ten minutes on their turn. If you have two, just don’t play this game.
Would we recommend either of the games?
Absolutely for Pandemic Legacy Season 1, and we are stoked for Season 2 coming out this fall. The information thus far on it make it look different but similar.
For Seafall, I would say yes, but some caveats. If you have primarily passive players, meaning they aren’t going to push action/conflict, if you have primarily casual players, or if you have primarily analysis paralysis players, don’t play this game. Also, realize that this is a slow burn game, with huge rushes of stories that add in awesome stuff. So, if you get Seafall, read up about it and decide if it’s right for your group.
What Games could get a Legacy Treatment?
This is the real reason that I wanted to write this, to do some games that could be turned into a legacy game, I’ll just do one now, but expect to see part 2 later this week.
Dead of Winter
Why it could work: Surviving a zombie apocalypse already has story elements built into it. In Dead of Winter you are trying to survive, but maybe it could be more than that, maybe you are trying to find enough supplies/clear out a path, and going from town to town in a way that is leading you to finding a cure, or more likely finding a safe haven where you and settle down and not worry. I’d play that story, and it lends itself to seasons as well, and good progression.
What would have to change: First, the tone would have be a lightened a bit. The game is quite dark with the crossroad cards and the things that can happen based on them. Those crossroad cards would have to change to be stuff that’s a bit more general. Also, the whole traitor aspect, you’d probably need to drop that, otherwise someone who started the game playing with you might just end up torpedoing everything early on and getting exiled, then what’s the fun for them?
What would I keep: I’d keep the hidden objectives. I like this idea that each player has their own secret dossier that tells them that they are trying to do by the end of the whole first season. Or maybe it isn’t even that big, maybe it’s a secret objective that you have to complete each game or different ones per player in each city/town that you go to. I’d also keep the idea that you have a base in each town (with my story idea), but then the buildings in the town can be different for each town which would be simple to set-up as an in game mechanic. I would also keep it semi-cooperative, but how does that work without there being a traitor?
What I would add: I’d add rewards for completing your hidden objectives, and since this is a legacy game, the players who complete their’s would end up with more of a reward at the end of the game. So that there is real incentive to completing your objective. Also, besides the zombies, there should be a big bad guy at some point, doesn’t have to stay around for the whole game, but having one appear sometimes, or maybe sometimes you are even competing against another group trying to get to safety, and all of this is done mechanic wise in the game.
Would I play this game? Yes, I think that Dead of Winter is ripe for a bigger story to be added to the game, and they’ve already built on it, I think this game needs a legacy version.
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