So I’m picking this one again because it’s one of my favorite themes and feelings in games. Also, the Dice Tower did a Top 10 list recently as well, so you can see how mine compares to theirs. But I am taking a slightly different…
Tag: Pandemic Legacy
Another mechanic that I really love, action points/allowance is basically how many things you can do on your turn. Now, I want to say that this differentiates from something like Monopoly or Clue where you can do multiple things on your turn, possibly. I doubt…
If you’ve followed the website for a while, you’ll know that a few years ago I was posting about Risk Legacy, but also talking about Legacy games and what games I thought would make a cool Legacy game, because I’m a massive fan of legacy games. You put it on the box and I’m going to be interested, even if it was disappointing, like, let’s say, SeaFall. Risk Legacy is the grand daddy of all the legacy games, but Risk is a game that I’m only just okay with, was it better in legacy form?
Risk Legacy keeps most of the same rules as the original Risk game. You still get troops based off of how many areas you control at the start of a turn. You still are rolling dice to try and take over areas, But the story of the game is different, in this, you’re still trying to take over a world that somehow was terraformed to look like Earth, just with rougher corners. Things went wrong when everyone came to the planet, so you all splintered off into groups. Each player at the start of the game gets a group and a base. The goal is to reach a certain number of victory points, and your base with worth a point as is everyone else’s bases. So you aren’t worrying about conquering everything, just getting their bases. Then, if you are knocked off the board, you can come back on the next round, so you still have a chance, though a very slim one. Also, factions have powers, but you might not always be playing the same faction so you have to know how to play different strategies with different factions.
Now, I’m going to try and talk about spoilers as little as possible as the game doesn’t have that many things to unlock, but the game was a ton of fun to play. It took Risk which can be a very long game and allowed you to focus in a few territories where your opponents had their bases. We had some games that would stretch on for a while because you’d end up with a lot of base trading so that even if you captured someone else’s base, someone had probably taken over your base the turn before, but all the games were much much faster than a normal game of Risk. It was a massive improvement, and unfortunately you only have a kind of playable copy of the base game afterwards, because I’d love to see Risk revamped to have that in it.
The special powers are great as well. It allows you to get a preferred faction, but not one that you are always going to play. It also means that you’re going to have something that makes you different. I like it when games can do that, so that even at the start of the game, you feel like you’re unique. And, not a spoiler, the factions become more diverse as the game goes on. This is interesting because it means that some factions can become stronger, so do you make changes to the faction to make them better for you now knowing that you might not get it back another game. This is another way that it is really a step up from Risk, being unique in a game where it can feel very generic is really nice. And like, I think, a good legacy game, you are different and then you can become more different and that keeps the game interesting for several games.
The set-up is also different from regular Risk. In normal Risk, every territory starts out with a troop on it, so the world is already populated for war, but that means that your troops are going to be spread quite thin even at the start. In this, you start with a base in an empty location or one that has a major city you founded earlier in the game. That’s where you start, and you can start as close or far from others as you want. You can expand out as slow or as fast as you want. It makes it a bit more of a strategic game versus just jumping straight into dice chucking. And it makes it seem like your choices matter more. There’s no trying to grab as much of Australia as possible, because you’re starting in one spot and someone could possibly block you in. Being in a remote corner or Asia can actually work because you’ll be able to expand out slowly. And, I think it helps with the speed of the game, because you aren’t always fighting each turn, so even though technically you could get to conflict faster, early turns of the game of Risk Legacy go much faster, and because you’re only dealing with trying to take out the bases, it works much smoother.
Finally, how does it compare to other Legacy games? Firstly, it doesn’t have as much to unlock. In Risk Legacy, you basically have a handful of envelopes and a couple of other spots to open. So, you aren’t opening stuff as often as you do in a game like Pandemic Legacy or even SeaFall. To go with that, since you aren’t opening as much, there isn’t as much of a story. There are a few twists that can come along the way, but it isn’t as story driven as Pandemic Legacy. There’s nothing to read at the start of each game, it’s basically put stuff down and start again. But what you do unlock, there’s a lot of fun stuff, and it has those moments of unlocking things and thinking that it is going to massively change the game, and it does. I won’t spoil what those are, but there are some very fun ones that you can get and unlock.
Overall, it was a really fun experience. I think that it still has some of the flaws of Risk because combat is still about who can roll dice with more luck than the other person. But the game length is shorter, the crazy moments of unlocking things is great, and the winning objective works really well. I don’t know that it really adds much more them to the game, but it does make it a whole lot more interesting. If you like Risk at all, Risk Legacy is going to be a really good option for you, and if you dislike Risk because of the length of the game, this could still be enjoyable. If it’s about the dice rolling combat, I’d skip it.
Overall Grade: B
Gamer Grade: B-
Casual Grade: B
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It’s that time of year, with Black Friday and Holiday Shopping nearly upon us. That means that people are starting to think about the gifts that they’ll be getting for others or what they might want to ask for themselves.
This list is basically the opposite of yesterday’s list which was focused on small games that are going to have a small footprint, small box, and generally a smaller price. Epic board games are going to generally be in a larger box and they are going to pack a lot into the game, so whether it’s in a fantasy world or a sci-fi setting, the game is going to feel big and epic. Also, stocking stuffers are going to be more apt to be games for a newer gamer, these, you are going to want to know the person likes board games.
Aeon’s End: War Eternal – This game actually doesn’t have a ton of pieces to it or a giant board at least. It’s a deck building game, but the game feels epic as you face off against an giant monster who is trying to destroy the town of Gravehold. You take on the roll of a breach mage who is casting spells to deal damage or out last the plans of the giant monster. To do this, you are building up a deck of cards, so it’s a pretty standard deck builder that way, but, in a twist, you never shuffle your deck, so if you are clever, you can pull off some interesting combos.
Betrayal at House on the Hill – This game is different from the first in that it has a sprawling footprint. You’re building out this massive haunted house, and eventually, there will be a twist when the haunt happens and someone is going to be a traitor. This game is a really thematic game that leans into the horror theme. The best way to describe it would be that you are playing through the movie Cabin in the Woods, if Cabin in the Woods was a mansion instead of a cabin. You never know what the haunt is going to be, because an omen card in a certain room is going to take you to a specific haunt. The game is a bit swingy in that someone can, with a bit of luck be very strong or the haunts can be a bit unbalanced, but it’s very thematic.
Blood Rage – With a name like that, how could it not be epic? In this game, you are taking your tribe of Viking warriors through combat and area control in order to get the most glory. However, beware where Ragnorak is happening, because that can knock your troops off the board. Blood Rage is, at it’s heart, a card drafting game where the cards you pick at the beginning of the age determine your strategy for that age. But it feels like it plays out on the table in a massive way, with big epic conflicts, monsters on the board, and the strategies are all based around different deities from Norse Mythology. The game looks cool on the table and the minis help give it it’s epic feel.
Cry Havoc – In what turns out to be a bit of a euro-style area control game, you really get to play through a giant cinematic game of different factions warring over the crystals. Humans are able to attack from different areas in support. The mechs can build up stronger technology and call in satellite support. The pilgrims are a peaceful alien race that just cares about growing as many crystals as possible. And the trogs are everywhere on the planet, because it’s their home world, and they’re trying to fight everyone off. In this game you’re getting points for crystals in the few rounds that you are playing and scoring. But it has a tricky bit of combat and interesting card play to be able to get to other areas, fight your battles, or in the case of the pilgrims, set-up your fortified areas. It looks cool and feels a bit like Avatar.
Dead of Winter – Dead of Winter is a survival zombie game where you are in charge of a group of survivors. You need to go out and find food, deal with zombies, get medicine to heal people, deal with crisis that are happening and complete a main objective. There is a ton to do in this game, plus, beyond that, you have your own goal you need to complete and there might be a traitor in your midst. All of that is great and epic feeling as you try and figure out who the traitor might be, but there are also crossroads cards which offer you tough decisions if the right conditions are met that makes this game feel even more epic.
Gloomhaven – This is, in my opinion, the ultimate big epic board game. It’s a massive box, massive footprint on the table, a ton of characters to play. Now, it comes with a large price tag, but the number of hours worth of play, it’s worth the price. Gloomhaven has a nice story to it, but it shines in the scenarios where you have to work with your teammates in your card play to get it really ticking, because the monsters hit back and they hit back hard. It’s a lot of strategy and it’s just fun to play, plus unlocking new characters keeps the game feeling fresh. It’s like a video game RPG, but on a board.
Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition – The only Lovecraftian game on this list, I considered Arkham Horror LCG, and while it does have a great story, it doesn’t feel quite as epic. Mansions of Madness though is an epic horror game in a box. You are using an app to drive the story and provide ambiance for the game. But that doesn’t take away from the board game piece, it just enhances it and can cause the game to be set-up differently each time you play a scenario. And there are tons of scenarios out there and expansions. You take on the role of an investigator who has been called in for something odd happening, but can you stop it in time or before you become too injured or insane to carry on?
Pandemic Legacy Season 1/Season 2 – I’m lumping both of them together, but both are pretty epic stories. As a Legacy game, it means that you have a limited number of plays through the story, but the story is good, and you feel like you get your value from them. You are playing what is basically Pandemic, a game where you are a member of the CDC going out to deal with diseases. The basic game is fairly epic, but when you add in an evolving story, it becomes more epic and challenging as you have to adapt to the strategies that the changes in the game is leading your towards. It’s fun to play through, even twice, like I’ve done, because there is a good story with it and a lot of story and interesting decisions.
Root – These are cute woodland creatures, they won’t be epic, will they? Yes, they will in this asymmetric game where players take on the roles of different factions of woodland creatures. Maybe you are the vagabond who is getting new items to be able to do more things or planning out your long term strategy as the Eyrie who need their orders to be carried out in a certain way and things will go poorly if they aren’t. Or maybe you are the Woodland Alliance who don’t start with much, but need to create a strong position on the board. And then there is the Marquise de Cat and his cat troops who are trying to keep control on the areas and expand their power. It’s big, it’s epic, and everyone feels really unique in the game.
Skulk Hollow – By far the smallest game on the list and only a two player game, it still feels epic. You have the foxen heroes who all of a sudden have to deal with a guardian. The guardian of the realm probably isn’t a bad guy, but with the foxen folk there now, they seem like one. One player plays as the guardian and the other as foxen folk, each with their own goals. The foxen folk always want to take down the guardian, but the guardian might be trying to get certain tokens out or maybe kill the leader of the foxen folk, or just kill as many foxen folk as they can. The game plays fast, but it packs a punch for what it does.
Star Wars: Rebellion – The original trilogy in a box, it’s going to be epic. Again a two player game where one person is the empire trying to find that darn rebel base. The other player, as the rebels is trying to complete missions in order to subvert the empires evil plans. It’s a good cat and mouse game with all the big players that you’d expect from a Star Wars game. It’s been close basically every time I’ve played it and while the rebels can be a bit trickier to play and this is a longer game, it is engaging the whole time and not too hard. The asymmetry is pretty limited and that makes teaching the game easier than the previous two ones, even with the different character goals.
Sword and Sorcery – Another big dungeon crawl with a lot of characters, Sword and Sorcery takes you on a tighter story than Gloomhaven does, but in what is more of a dice chucking game. The story is cool, and the monsters, while limited, offer a good variety of challenges. What makes this game especially unique is the death mechanic, where if you die, you aren’t out of the game, you have limited things you can do, but you can also respawn as long as you have enough soul gems. There are a ton of characters to play, and while the story is quite linear, I do feel like it’s a game that I could play through again with different characters and the game would feel different.
T.I.M.E. Stories – This game is basically time cops as you try and police the time stream, going to Earth in different eras as well as to completely different worlds. It’s an interesting game because you run through different stories, which are expansions for the game. T.I.M.E. Stories, for everything, is the most expensive game on the list, but it’s worth checking out. The story in the base game is interesting, and it only starts to show you the plug and play nature of the system. Each story, also, has it’s own epic feel, and you get to run through the story, making better decisions each time or maybe finally going down that rabbit trail that you probably shouldn’t have gone down.
Village Attacks – Maybe, as compared to the rest of the games, you want to play the bad guys. In Village Attacks, you and a team of other monsters has to deal with pesky villagers who are coming to your lair with their pitchforks and torches. You need to protect yourself, because that’s very rude of them to attack you. Can you survive the onslaught of monsters coming? It’s a fun cooperative game and very challenging as there are so many villagers. I had a blast playing it at GenCon, and I’m super excited to get my kickstarter copy. If you want to get this game, you need to check out the possibility of a late pledge from the kickstarter.
XenoShyft: Onslaught – Sometimes you just want to squish some bugs. XenoShyft is basically Starship Troopers where you have to defend this mining facility from all sorts of waves of bugs. This is another deck building game, and it’s a tough deck building game, but you always feel like you’re getting better and have a chance. The cool and unique part of the game is the fact that you can play your cards to help other people, because sometimes you might have a lot of weapons that you can’t use, but someone else might need them, so you have to balance it out to make sure that there isn’t a weak link. This is a tough game to win, but a ton of fun.
There are so many epic games out there. If you want a longer game that you can play a lot, there are a lot of good options out there. I’d recommend starting with some of the smaller ones on the list, XenoShyft: Onslaught, Pandemic Legacy, or Aeon’s End. But if they already like epic games, and you want to splurge, Gloomhaven is a game that you can’t go wrong with. Yes, it won’t be for everyone, but it is a massive epic game and unless you want a ton of dice rolling, which Gloomhaven doesn’t offer.
Is there an epic game out there that you really love? Or is there one that is really epic that you want to get?
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So, recently, as I’ve been posting out, I’ve finished a playthrough of Pandemic Legacy Season 1 solo on Youtube. You can find that on Youtube at Malts and Meeples or on the Nerdologists.
But, I wanted to go back to this game and write an updated TableTopTakes on it, because the two experiences were very different, but similar. I’ll explain what I mean in a second, but first, let’s talk about the game itself.
Pandemic Legacy Season 1 is based off of the base game Pandemic. In Pandemic you are a group from the CDC based out of Atlanta. You are trying to stop the spread of four diseases, red, blue, yellow, and black, before you run out of time, run out of disease cubes, or have too many outbreaks. At the start of Pandemic Legacy Season 1, this is what you are still doing. However, because it’s a legacy game, the game evolves over time. New rules are added, cards are added or removed from the decks, characters change, and stickers are added to the board. At the end of Pandemic Legacy, you end up with your own copy of the game that is unique from anyone else’s experience based off of a number of different things. But along with changing up rules, etc. there is also a story element that leads you through the game as you find out what is happening around the world and with the diseases. This story is pretty straight forward and you are always going to hit the same beats at the same time.
This story is where I want to start talking about the two experiences that I had. Mainly, because, the story doesn’t change. Even though the boards look radically different between the two games, the story, progressed in a very similar way. You hit the same beats at the same time, and while I got to skip a little part or two along the way because I was more prepared, the story as a whole didn’t change. Now, is that a bad thing about the game? Is it bad because there is a limited number of times you can play through because you remember the story? It was three years, I believe, between plays for me, and I remembered a fair amount of the story. Maybe not when it was going to happen in the game, but I remembered that it happened. It isn’t a great thing about this game, however, playing through the second time, the experience was still very enjoyable. It was different though as I wasn’t always waited with baited breath for the next bit of story.
Pandemic Legacy Season 1 (and Season 2 for that matter) really come down to being so much of an experience. Even when you know the story, you are still wrapped up in what you know is going to be coming. Plus, the tension that you can get even from the base game if the epidemics come up just wrong is still strong in this game, if not stronger. The game builds up to the point where you feel like if something wrong happens, it’s going to get out of control fast. And I don’t think that you lose that experience either playing it a second time or playing it solo. I think had my first play been solo, I might have done better than we did but probably a few more rules would have been missed. I also think that the tension might have been lower the other way around because while I wouldn’t have spoiled anything, I could have lead people in the right direction and had more group input. Or I would have had to have sat back and that might have caused more tension, because I could see wrong choices or poor choices being made.
One big difference between the two games was that the first time through, there were four players. When I played solo, I was the only player and I controlled two characters. Controlling two characters is pretty easy, and it worked well. You’re able to coordinate a bit better than with four characters because you aren’t sending your characters away at random. I also tried not to play on “easy mode” which would be using the Medic and the Dispatcher who are a powerful character combination. Even with that, I would say that coordinating two characters yourself is notably easier than playing with four people each controlling a single character. That’s not a downside to either experience, but the game dynamic changes with the number of players you have, and in a game with tough decisions, both ways can sometimes be an advantage.
With all of that said, do I think I could play it a third time? And I think that I probably could. I’m not sure I could sit down and do it now, it would seem like something I just finished and know too much about, because that’s an accurate statement. But, sometime down the line, I could see coming back to it with the right group, especially if you’re introducing it to new players. To kind of take the role of the rules expert who can run the set-up and keep track of the book keeping aspect while sitting back and enjoying the game or helping as needed in decision making. It would be a good way to introduce a more complicated idea of a game, though the mechanics are pretty straight forward, to a group of people who might not play as many games.
Overall, it was a really enjoyable experience going through the game again. I think I had basically as much fun the second time as I did the first time, and when it’s just me playing it, it’s easier to coordinate it getting done. Pandemic Legacy Season 1 is a game that can benefit from having a tighter timeline, though, since it’s based off of months, you can certainly do what we did the first time and try and play once a month. If you are looking for a campaign style game that is very accessible, I think that Pandemic Legacy is a great option. And while you can’t play the game again when you are done with it, the price point is good and the hours of entertainment and the experience are fairly valued.
Overall Grade: A
Gamer Grade: A-
Casual Grade: A
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After an exciting run of games, I am wrapping up Pandemic Legacy Season 1. See how it all ends and find out how well I did in the game. Pandemic Legacy is a Cooperative board game that I’m playing as a solo game where you…