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Author Topic: Pandemic Legacy (probably will have spoilers)  (Read 479 times)

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Kuildeous

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Pandemic Legacy (probably will have spoilers)
« on: September 04, 2018, 10:04:38 am »
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The hard part about playing Pandemic Legacy Season 2 (and I'm this holds true for Season 1 as well) is that the ideal state to play this game is to lose the first game of each month. This lets you spend two games per month building up the game board.

But losses can be nasty, so I've taken to seeking either a win or a good loss. A good loss is what I call a game where we made more progress than we lost.

I'm not going to be able to convince my group that losing is good though.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2018, 10:54:13 am by Kuildeous »
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LaLight

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Re: Pandemic Legacy (spoiler-free zone)
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2018, 10:09:33 am »
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The hard part about playing Pandemic Legacy Season 2 (and I'm this holds true for Season 1 as well) is that the ideal state to play this game is to lose the first game of each month. This lets you spend two games per month building up the game board.

But losses can be nasty, so I've taken to seeking either a win or a good loss. A good loss is what I call a game where we made more progress than we lost.

I'm not going to be able to convince my group that losing is good though.

We played season 1 with Qvist, Watno and RTT and I think we lost only 4 times? And it never was intended, we tried to win every time. And every loss was due to massive unluck of my hand :c

Anyway yeah, if you lose every first game you probably is in a best position. But iirc this strips you of some final points? I don't know if this matters.

Sorry for spoilahs
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Re: Pandemic Legacy (spoiler-free zone)
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2018, 10:30:24 am »
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Well, taking a calculated loss always extends the game, and thus increases the chance that something awful will happen before that game is over. I suppose sometimes you are in a position where you can control that, but most of the time I'd argue not.

I have more thoughts but I find it quite hard to express them without spoilers.
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GendoIkari

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Re: Pandemic Legacy (spoiler-free zone)
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2018, 10:32:12 am »
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You could also argue that losing is good because it allows you to play the game more... better value for the purchase.

I played through Season 1 a couple years ago and loved it. Just finally bought Season 2 recently; haven't started it yet.
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Kuildeous

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Re: Pandemic Legacy (spoiler-free zone)
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2018, 01:37:50 pm »
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You could also argue that losing is good because it allows you to play the game more... better value for the purchase.

I played through Season 1 a couple years ago and loved it. Just finally bought Season 2 recently; haven't started it yet.

I kind of feel that way about maximizing value of a legacy game. I feel like I'd want to get 24 games regardless. And I think I'd be willing to embrace that despite LaLight's spoiler.

Season 2 is definitely interesting. It has the very basics of Pandemic, but it's just so different. I haven't played S1, but I'm familiar with Pandemic, and S2 is like Pandemic played in reverse. The discoveries are fun.

People have said it's not as good as S1, but that's like saying lobster is not as good as filet mignon.
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DG

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Re: Pandemic Legacy (spoiler-free zone)
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2018, 03:54:49 pm »
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My group found each play through  to be either quite easy or an old fashioned Pandemic beating with early exploding epidemics. Failing any play through just gives the game another chance to turn nasty on you.
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Re: Pandemic Legacy (spoiler-free zone)
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2018, 04:15:53 pm »
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People have said it's not as good as S1, but that's like saying lobster is not as good as filet mignon.
That reference is lost on me... but I actually enjoy S2 more than I did S1 so far (and I did enjoy S1 a lot). We're in October of S2.
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Kuildeous

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Re: Pandemic Legacy (spoiler-free zone)
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2018, 04:23:24 pm »
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People have said it's not as good as S1, but that's like saying lobster is not as good as filet mignon.
That reference is lost on me... but I actually enjoy S2 more than I did S1 so far (and I did enjoy S1 a lot). We're in October of S2.

Just saying that S2 is pretty good. People saying it's worse than S1, which is already a highly acclaimed game, is not indicative of S2 being a bad game.
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Kuildeous

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Re: Pandemic Legacy (probably will have spoilers)
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2018, 11:00:44 am »
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So I finished my game of S2 and posted my thoughts here:
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/30344898

Or if you know you're not going to play and don't mind spoilers. Your call. I'm not the Morality Police.

But I had a blast. Kind of sad that it's gone. I mean, I could buy a new copy and play again. It could be an interesting exercise in trying to win the first time in each month since I know where exactly to beeline. And it would be interesting to revisit the strategy of Box 6, which as a Dominion fan, I simply loved. Playing anew with this information means I would make the route from Utopia to Kolkata much more efficient.

Maybe if I get a copy of S2 for cheap (or a partially started one from someone who gave up), it would be a fun little exercise. Otherwise, I don't really want to buy a game with the intent of playing it as little as possible.
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Kirian

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Re: Pandemic Legacy (probably will have spoilers)
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2018, 03:10:13 pm »
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We're a bit over halfway through.  I'm not sure losing intentionally is an optimal strategy; building up the board too much (by spending the extra time doing so) also makes future games harder (resources spread thin, harder to finish some objectives.  But time will tell; we've had a few devastating losses, including at least one where game setup took longer than game play.
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Tables

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Re: Pandemic Legacy (probably will have spoilers)
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2019, 05:14:17 pm »
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Me and my partner just finished Pandemic Legacy: Season 2. We never played Season 1. Non-spoiler thoughts first, then some minor spoiler thoughts, then full major spoiler thoughts:

Non-spoiler: The game is really fun. As one would expect with legacy games, it does a great job twisting things around at various points and throwing curveballs that shake up how you play and what you want to do. We played two player, and I think that makes things a fair bit easier - with two people you can co-ordinate cards more easily, focus on just building up a small number of characters and thus saving production units, and it's easier to avoid exposure. But regardless, we won! The game was moderately challenging and I can definitely see poor or good luck making the game far harder or easier than intended, although over a campaign of 12 to 24 games it's likely to balance out at least a bit.

The game weaves its story and gameplay together pretty well, we thought. The way the narrative is often used to give clues about what might be worth doing was pretty cool, as well as explain a few subtle questions that cropped up. We didn't always pick up on these hints, and sometimes we just couldn't do what they were suggesting due to poor card draw.

Minor spoilers (talking about mostly non-specific things, might give a little bit of information if you haven't played. Won't spoil story or exact new rules):
We finished with a score of 806 IIRC, which put us in the 2nd highest score band (highest is 850+). We won 8 months on game 1, 3 months on game 2 and lost only 1 month completely. We had a rough time somewhere in the early game, due to a combination of not paying enough attention to hints and bad card draws. We got to 3 losses in a row before finally pulling off a win, and then won back to back for a while again.

The game really picks up in pacing and story during the second half. The first half of the game is mostly exploring the nearby area, making your grid as some story starts being set up for you. The second half of the game is much more intense, focusing the story more directly on the goal.

I feel like the game heavily utilises a design philosophy that goes something like this:
Step 1: create a new "problem". For example, adding cities to the grid means more places you need cubes.
Step 2: Let players struggle against this problem for 1-3 months (or until performing specific tasks). For example, throughout the first 2-3 months you'll likely add 2-3 new cities per month, give or take, quickly increasing the size of the grid and places needing cubes
Step 3: Give players a new tool that heavily mitigates or solves problems. For example, box 6 - which if you haven't played, is a really cool new mechanic and very interesting to plan around. It also helps solve the above problem as well as other problems in a really cool, neat way.

Sometimes, these problems come simultaneously and are solved separately, or come separately and are solved together, or just stagger a bit with each other. Normally you have a few such problems at once, because they're what makes the game fun. If you had nothing causing you problems, you'd have no tension and no challenge. But if you had too many problems you'd get stretched too thin with things to do, and the game could become overwhelming both to process and to win. So this is a neat way of keeping things balanced - once a mechanic has been challenging for a bit, give the player a way to solve it and start introducing new challenges to deal with. And this is done in a non-explicit way as well, which is really neat. You don't get told "Hey, the grid is bloated and you're stretched too thin", but you feel it as you play and quickly start dealing with it once you gain the new tools to do so.

If you've finished season 2, have a think back through the game and see how many times this kind of mechanic comes up. You'll probably be surprised at how many you can count.


Major spoilers (specific objectives, months, cards etc. talked about here - not recommended to read until you finish the campaign)
I think the game was at its most fun around July to October. Reconning into Central Asia is where the game really starts picking up and throwing new, cool twists at you and they keep coming for a while. Incidentally, this is another example of the design philosophy I mentioned above - Hollow Men get added after reconning Central Asia, and they're an unstoppable nusiance. Get placed in a key city? Sorry but you're taking exposure, nothing you can do about it. They can really make things tricky, especially if your grid is not well connected. But then after reconning East Asia you get Shelters, a tool to solve that problem. And in October you gain the ability to move them at Radio Towers which another tool that solves the problem, plus some character abilities, and suddenly the unavoidable surge of incoming Hollow Men is not an unstoppable problem you have to manoeuvre around but a speed bump you can tackle.

November and December were fun, but I feel like a little bit of the tension and excitement had gone by that point since we had unlocked almost everything there was. Now there were only a few things left to find and to discover. That said, the final objective was really cool. The idea of injecting 1000x the safe dose of a vaccine into someone to smuggle it is more than a little questionable, I feel (I'm sure they could think of a better way, like wearing a Hollow Man backpack maybe), but then the mechanics from then on were pretty cool. We were pretty lucky with the hand my partner had, plus the cards she had - I had made a path from Johannesburg to Dar Es Salaam and then New Mumbai earlier this game when we saw we'd need to transport the cure there, along with building the supply centre, and that meant the shortest path we had needed 3 red, 2 black, 1 yellow and 1 blue. She had almost all of those in hand already, and had the ability to swap any card for another in the discard pile, meaning she could get back in just two turns. But I can imagine in a 4 player game this could be a really tense and exciting finish, with a heroic sacrifice in the final moments to win - or a costly failure if you don't.

The early-mid game was very enjoyable for different reasons. Exploring new regions and getting new powers and things from them was really cool, and some of the rewards were very enjoyable and helped with that make problem/solve problem thing I mentioned above. Shuttle Flight and Towers made collecting cards much easier, along with getting to distant parts of the grid. Box 6, the innoculation mechanics were SUPER fun to play around with. There's a lot of strategic and tactical choices you can make with that, especially later in the game when you add the It's Wearing Off stickers to Epidemics. Removing infection cards to clean up total areas, removing player cards to basically do brinkmanship with the epidemic count (we kept ourselves almost constantly at exactly 51 player cards in the deck. Connect a new city with 2 cards? We made it a priority to box two city cards. I kind of wonder what other people did player card wise.

Our two strongest characters ended up being the Opal lab character (when you make supplies you can make them from the reserve), Alejandro, who we gave the one free drive/ferry per turn, deliver supplies to adjacent regions, and discard a card to deliver a supply there. He ended up being hugely valuable for many different things - he could treat cities with Hollow Men without exposure, bought lots of extra supplies into the game - when we found the east Indian Haven we didn't even really need the +15, at least at that point since we could get so many onto the board already. In fact it wasn't unusual for us to empty the reserve. The other, perhaps surprisingly, was the Scientist from Jade, Zoe. She has the once per turn destroy an infection card for your city for free ability. I was going to completely ignore her - we had a few other decently built characters at this point but my partner convinced me she would be worth it, and we tried her out and boy was she right. We probably destroyed 10-15 infection cards with her, making several cities completely safe and thus making far more places we could save on cubes and avoid needing to visit again. She also had the abilities to recon with one less card (added in November, used once, worth it), swap a player card for another and spend a card to destroy a hollow man in that colour, which I think we used like twice ever. She was our very fitting heroine who delivered the cure safely back to her own lab, before passing on.

Looking forward to season 3, and she's looking forward to season 1!
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Kuildeous

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Re: Pandemic Legacy (probably will have spoilers)
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2019, 02:49:21 pm »
+1

I concur with you on the pacing of the challenges in Season 2. It felt pretty natural.

From what I read, quite a few groups struggled around the March/April period. That was when we had our 3 losses in a row. We considered losing a fourth time to see what was on the card, but pride kept us going, and we prevented four losses in a row.

Box 6 was really handy. Our experience with deckbuilders helped a lot here. We worked on removing infection cards from hard-to-reach cities so we wouldn't need to put cubes on them. But we also focused on removing unnecessary colors from the player deck. For example, we removed a good chunk of blue and yellow because we were busy reconning Africa and Asia. I didn't want to completely remove those colors, and I'm certainly glad we did not.

Box 6 was also a lot easier to handle when I made a spreadsheet to track everything.

We played with 4players, which I've seen people claim is the hardest number to play with. Considering that we had to spread out reward out across more characters, I can certainly see that.

Sadly, we couldn't find all 4 labs until the very end. We found Opal mid-game, which was really great for us. I'm glad that we found it. We knew the other two labs were in the southern hemisphere, but we just weren't finding them early on. Part of the problem, I feel, was a general reluctance to explore too many cities too quickly because that makes it harder to complete the goal of searching 2 cities per game. Since some searches ended up wasting good stuff, being utterly neutral, or even having a negative effect, I couldn't really convince the group to search everything we can.

I'm doing Betrayal Legacy right now, and it's also fun, even though Betrayal is a horribly swingy game.
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Re: Pandemic Legacy (probably will have spoilers)
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2019, 05:17:59 pm »
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I think going into the first April or May game, I looked over the card with the co-ordinates on it and was like "we need to search Buenos Aries ASAP, there's a lab there. Don't know what that is but it must be important and good." I was right, so we got that fairly quickly. When we connected Africa we made a point of getting to Johannesburg ASAP to search that, think we did it using the "pick up card from discard to search" ability on someone so we got that done very quickly. Wellington was added in November game 1, seemed worthwhile. We ended up picking actually pretty bad characters for November game 1, bad planning on our part but managed to complete part of the plan at least, while doing the two remaining recons.

I ended up not making a spreadsheet for box 6 but did build two hand written tables. I don't have a (consistently working) laptop any more, so hand written seemed better. Tracked total player/infection cards, how many we had, notes on what had happened to them and notes on improvements.

Since I'm on the topic of box 6 though, I did build a few quick excel sheets to look at epidemic density vs. cards in deck - with that we decided to stay at 51 player cards. Looking at the numbers was interesting - yes, keeping it at just 6 or even 5 epidemics is WAY better epidemic density wise, but it requires some work to achieve. And if you miss out slightly and are just over the line instead, that's really bad. Not to mention trying to stay at e.g. 5 epidemics would require some planning around the box filling up. Maybe being at 6 epidemics would as well, but less so. The other advantage with thinning is you get to utilise your upgraded cards and companions far more often. With only 44 cards instead of 51, that's 7 less dud cards, which is a fairly reasonable improvement to how often you draw your good cards. With just 36 it's even better. A weird alternative that I saw some people try online is to do the opposite and completely ignore innoculating player cards. Not a fan personally - you need something like 80-85 player cards in the deck before the density ends up better than keeping it neat at 51, and that's pretty close to all of the player cards in the game I believe. So you suffer for a long time, to maybe get a benefit right at the end - and even then, with your really low density of those critical red cards, and card upgrades and companions being rare, I still have doubts about the strategies value.

We briefly considered aiming to cut down to 44, I do wonder if we should have aggressively pursued doing that, actually - we had several unused unrationed events and didn't rip up any produce supplies (though quite a few ended up at only one system wide production left) so cutting a few more cards out of the deck would probably have been helpful for us. We didn't actually innoculate infection cards as much as we probably should have. We cleared almost all of South America, which gave us a lot of breathing room, and then hit a few other sporadic cities, but I think by the time "It's wearing off" came into play we only had about 6-9 infection cards in box 6, while we probably should have put more like 20-25 into in by then. I think the best thing to do would have probably been to pick a few regions of the board - likely Africa after we saw it was infested and somewhere else like South America - and just dunked every infection card we came across from those areas. We didn't, and well we also didn't lose any of those midgame months so I guess I shouldn't criticise our performance too much.

One final thought: I had noticed the rulebook space for replacing step 2 of epidemics and wondered what it was. Initially I expected something like Virulent Strains to replace our epidemics, but what we got was very cool and I immediately realised this is a mechanic that heavily reduces the luck element of epidemics, and therefore this is an element we can control and exploit to make epidemics less of a threat. With our box 6 emptying quickly at this point, we then made a point to put just single cities cards in (or cards for cities we stocked up a bit), and suddenly add in Jade and Epidemics went from "oh crap, what now" to "lol remove one of Cairo's 4 cubes thanks"


I do agree that 4 player is very likely harder. I think that's because firstly, the reason you just said that you have to spread bonuses across more characters (although we did end up with four moderately well upgraded characters in the end anyway) - I actually don't think this is a massive deal, you get a lot of production units to spend even if you win a lot. I think the bigger deal is gameplay itself. With four players exposure becomes a considerably bigger risk. As a really simplified explanation: Twice as many pawns on the board = twice as many places where unexpected exposure could appear. It doesn't quite work like that in reality, of course - but I think the idea is still there. By the end of the campaign I think we took a grand total of 3 exposure across all of our characters, excluding that from the carrier. Only two scars were ever placed, and on different characters. Do you remember roughly how much exposure your group had across your team? I suspect it's a lot more than just three, playing with four people!

There were so many really cool and fun mechanics. A lot of them I think are not obvious in how you can exploit them, but a smart group can find some really clever ways to do so. I'm pretty sure the designers knew them and heck, I'd go so far as to say most or even all were intended - why else would the Monitor action be so heavily limited, if they weren't aware you could use it to start avoiding epidemics consistently? Speaking of which we got lots of mileage out of ours, scratching off the final box to dodge an epidemic in the final game, pretty much perfect resource management if I do say so myself. If you're the kind of person who enjoys optimising and thinking of cool ideas to try in your games while not playing the games, you'll love many aspects of Pandemic Legacy Season 2.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 05:38:05 pm by Tables »
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...spin-offs are still better for all of the previously cited reasons.
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Kuildeous

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Re: Pandemic Legacy (probably will have spoilers)
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2019, 11:28:55 am »
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Yes, we abused the hell out of the monitor action as well. To the point that I had to warn people not to use it too much because we want to save it for when it really counts.

As for exposures, I think we only had 5 exposures across the 4 of us. We played a lot with the role that lets you move others before their turn starts. We avoided at least 3 more exposures that way, I think.

I found Box 6 to be really fun, and I imagine that the difference in how well people did may boil down to how much planning they did with this. Well, and maybe the 2 players vs 4 players.
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