Good Legacy Game for a non-hardcore gamer
April 23, 2018 2:55 AM   Subscribe

I've never played a legacy board game. I'd like to fix that. But I have some specific requirements.

• I don't have a huge amount of experience with modern gaming and I will probably be intimidated by anything with ultra-complicated mechanics.

• I will be playing it with my family when the kids are awake, or with my wife after the kids are in bed. So it needs to be playable in one (or both) of the following scenarios:
--As a four-person game, with a 10-year-old, a 7-year-old, and two grownups, or
--As a two-person game with two grownups who want to relax in the evening

• If it's a relax-in-the-evening game, ideally it won't be too frantic, disturbing, or intense. (This gives me pause about Pandemic: Legacy, which seems like it would otherwise be the obvious choice.)

Does a game exist that meets all these requirements?
posted by yankeefog to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Why does it specifically have to be a Legacy game?
Would you be OK with a campaign-based game without permanent modifications to the components?
I wouldn't call Pandemic Legacy Season 1 any more "frantic, disturbing or intense" than a regular game of Pandemic. Why do you feel this way?

In Pandemic Legacy (without spoiling anything) you are just basically playing between 12 and 24 games of Pandemic with mild rules changes and altered goals in each game, with story bits that happen throughout and between the games. The destroying of cards, writing on components, and using stickers, are really only a method of preventing you from "going back to the last save-point" in the campaign.

In general, the "Legacy mechanics" work a whole lot better with cooperative than competitive games, because then you don't have to split your attentions between "I want to win" and "what's in the next box?"
I think Pandemic Legacy Season 1 is the best of the concept so far, in that regard. It would work fine playing as either a family or a 2-person adult experience.
posted by jozxyqk at 3:25 AM on April 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Pandemic can be quite difficult, and the Legacy one might be trickier if you haven't played the original game before*. Whether difficulty = intensity is up to you, but it could be discouraging if you kept losing (losing doesn't mean you can't continue with the Legacy "campaign" though, and the game gives you bonuses to make it easier when you lose). Disclaimer: I've only played about 1/3 of the way through Pandemic Legacy.

(*I did play the original before Legacy so I can't be sure though)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:47 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

There's only 3 true 'legacy' games out, last I checked. SeaFall is supposedly not great and has minimum player count of 3; Risk Legacy has a minimum player count of 3; Pandemic Legacy is about a world-imperiling plague and might be a bit much for your kids.

Moving to campaign-based games:
Gloomhaven involved serious in-the-moment strategy.... and usually takes us 2-3 hours to play. Otherwise likely good for you; very flexible player count, and adjustable difficulty level so you can play on 'easier' mode with your kids and 'harder' mode with just adults.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game is about madness and cultists and Cthulhu, so probably not great for your kids.

So your best bets are Pandemic, if your kids can handle a movie-like epidemic experience, or Gloomhaven, if you can handle the playing time.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 4:31 AM on April 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

You definitely don't want SeaFall, for many reasons. If you don't like Pandemic, you probably won't like Pandemic Legacy any better. So that leaves Risk.

I don't know that I'd recommend any of them for a seven year old.

What experience are you trying to get that is specific to the Legacy games? From your description, I'd say you'd be better served with a copy of Onirim and Forbidden Island/Desert and maybe friendly but competitive card game.
posted by Candleman at 4:56 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I came in to recommend Pandemic Legacy; I'm not sure you'll find it too intense, though maybe you will. It has some dramatic moments but can be fairly relaxing, especially if you're not too invested in winning all the time and are happy to just play and try and maybe lose. There's a pretty strong balancing factor too (you get as above, you get bonuses when you lose so that the next game is easier).
posted by katrielalex at 5:26 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Pandemic Legacy with children works great. We have done it with 8 year olds successfully.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 5:58 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

As commenters above have mentioned, you may want to look into campaign-based games. My friends and I have had a lot of fun with Mice and Mystics, and I've also heard excellent things about Stuffed Fables (from the same publisher). Also, if you're fans of Harry Potter, check out the co-op Hogwarts Battle game, which is a deckbuilder that gets more complicated as you play through the seven included "episodes".
posted by littlegreen at 6:26 AM on April 23, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers! I promise not to threadsit, but just to clarify a few points that have come up:

• I was looking for games where (A) the game changes over multiple playthroughs, and (B) at least some of those changes are irreversible. My understanding is that campaign games have (A), but if it has (A) and (B), it's a legacy game. (Is that right?)

• By "disturbing," I just meant that a global pandemic is one of my real-world fears, and contemplating it for an hour at night is something that might make it hard for me to sleep.

• I didn't realize how few true legacy games are out there. Given that, it sounds like I should face my fears head on, and give Pandemic Legacy a try. It also sounds like I should open my search to campaign games as well, especially given how specific my other needs are. So I welcome suggestions of campaign games, too.

• I don't have to play the same game at night with my wife and during the day with my kids. It's fine if a game is suitable for one situation but not the other.
posted by yankeefog at 6:28 AM on April 23, 2018

"Legacy" is a young concept and the name technically belongs to a small number of games with either Rob Daviau's design or blessing (Charterstone might be the only game at the moment that name-drops "Legacy" that isn't directly by Rob).

"Irreversible" is in the eye of the beholder. The difference between putting a sticker on the board and writing on a piece of paper is really the players' willpower. Also, some campaign-based games have approached unpredictability in a different way, such as with an app or as an LCG.
So you might not need to limit yourself to this handful.

There is something empowering about the first few times you get to rip up cards or draw on the board, but if the game is weak, then a campaign can turn into more of a trap that you feel obligated to finish at that point.
I have personally played through about 50% of a Risk Legacy campaign (which ended prematurely), 75% of a Seafall campaign (which may or may not finish someday), a full Pandemic Legacy Season 1 campaign and about half-so-far of Pandemic Legacy Season 2, and I think Pandemic Legacy S1 has been the most rewarding and fun of the "legacy" games so far.
posted by jozxyqk at 6:50 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's not a really a board game per se, but the all-ages card game Fabled Fruit might fit the bill. I just played it for the first time over the weekend and it's simple/cute enough for kids, but still really fun and competitive even for adults. The gameplay is simple: Build different combinations of fruit cards in your hand to make smoothies and score points, while preventing the other players from doing the same.

It's sort of a "legacy lite" design, in that it's designed to be played out over several sessions, with new wrinkles being added to the game as you play in the form of more challenging/unique goals and bonuses; however the changes are completely non-destructive (no cards being torn up, or stickers going on things) so the game can be "reset" back to its original state when you've played through the whole thing.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:55 AM on April 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Just came in to recommend Fabled Fruit as well.
posted by Candleman at 7:22 AM on April 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

What about a game that isn't legacy but has expansions you can use to change things up? I'm thinking specifically about Splendor, which has a number of things that you can do to change it. Obviously they aren't irreversible, but they would keep you from playing the same game all the time. The same is true of the new reprint of Kingsburg, which looks more complicated than it is.

Other games we have played with our kids, and still loved with just adults: Ticket To Ride; KingDomino, Century: Gollum, Machi Koro (another one with expansions).
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:41 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Mice and Mystics might fit the family play bill as a cooperative game with a campaign story. But, I doubt it has the longevity for parallel later play with just you and your wife. If budget allows, you might split those requirements.
If you're in for lots of dice rolling, then the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game also is campaign play.
I've heard good things about Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. You'd need to judge if your youngest is suited to something like this where it is cooperative, but I don't think open hand (I haven't checked carefully).
posted by meinvt at 9:27 AM on April 23, 2018

I've played a lot of Pandemic. In my opinion, it's a perfectly accessible game for the 'non-hardcore' – it plays in under two hours (generally closer to an hour), the mechanics are really streamlined and the theme is instantly comprehensible (and also a lot of fun, if it doesn't induce too much anxiety).

At the same time, co-op gameplay is unusual for people used to traditional family board games. It's a lot of fun to work together as a team if you're more used to wiping each other off the map in Risk or Monopoly.

I've not played the Legacy version, but I'd recommend Pandemic to anybody.
posted by Ted Maul at 10:48 AM on April 23, 2018

Actually, having read your question a little more closely, I'm not sure if a 7-year-old would really grasp the game or its concepts. There's a good chance they'd find it frustrating. Your 10-year-old mileage may vary!
posted by Ted Maul at 10:51 AM on April 23, 2018

I did forget to mention two downsides to Gloomhaven:

1) it's veeery tactical. You can play on extra-easy mode, where a parent helps their youngest, but theoretically everyone chooses their actions in secret at the same time, then sort of trip over one another as one of their allies does what they wanted to do. Combine choosing 2 cards every turn (each card has 2 actions but you can only use 50% of them), and that's a loooot to ask of a 7-year-old.

2) It's expensive as hell.

It does have some irreversible things, but they're more of the "you have unlocked..." type. You have unlocked a location! Opened a box of secrets! A plot point!

You may enjoy D&D-ish games like Mice & Mystics, or the more straightforward Mechs and Minions (although AFAIK nothing is permanently changed in Mechs).
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:26 PM on April 23, 2018

I third Hogwart's Battle. It's a really enjoyable cooperative deck building game (with open hands) that gets increasingly complicated through seven subgames. You only advance to the next game if you win (otherwise you replay the same level the next time), so it may be ten or twenty rounds. And if you love it, there's an expansion with, I think, seven more subgames. (I'm still playing through that.) We started playing it when our daughter was nine or ten and she does fine with it, maybe a little squirrelly on the later, longer subgames.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:04 PM on April 23, 2018

Charterstone can be played with only two people but I'm not sure that it's ideal and I don't think kids younger than 10 would do very well at it. T.I.M.E Stories might be something to consider but I've heard some of the scenarios aren't kid friendly.
posted by fiercekitten at 10:25 PM on April 23, 2018

Response by poster: Thank you everybody! You've given me a lot of helpful suggestions, not to mention educating me on the general status of legacy gaming. I'm not going to select a Best Answer in this case because I would have to highlight literally the entire thread.

I've now ordered Pandemic Legacy to play with my wife, and Hogwart's Battle to play with the kids. Once we've played through those, I plan on checking out the other suggestions here.
posted by yankeefog at 8:11 AM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

« Older Where do I put my butt?   |   Setting Expectations with Bosses Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.