The Aftermath of Legacy Gaming (Spoiler Free)

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Theme and What is It?

This is not a game review. But I am going to attack it as if it were, at least to start.

Legacy gaming is where a game is purchased, knowing full well you will destroy cards, that some of your characters will not make it out alive. It is a means to play the same game many times, without any of those replays ever being remotely similar.

I explained it to a friend, by saying, when I was a kid, I’d play old school video RPG’s; like Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy and even to some extent Zelda. When I would play those games, I would get tired, and want to go to bed, but I would discover a new sword, and it would be explained if I just played a bit more, I would get a new shield. Once I had the shield, it would be explained I only had a bit farther to go to get the new armor. Now, I needed the boots, that would complete the suit of armor, and make me invincible…

But, the boots, also had a new sword… and the cycle repeats, until 5 in the morning when my grandmother would wake up and tell me to go to bed.

Now, nearly three decades later, I am doing it again, except I am bringing a friend along, and we are both pushing each other for just one more revelation.

This is Legacy gaming in my eyes; and destruction.

Gameplay Mechanics

The first time I played through Pandemic Legacy with my brother, his wife, and niece, nothing too drastic happened. Then at the end of the game, the game asked us to tear up a card. I asked my niece to do this, she was 11. She asked, “Are you sure????”

I wasn’t sure. I am still not sure. It goes against everything I have been taught as a board gamer. We are taught to take care of things, especially other people’s games. Now, I am asking my niece to do just the opposite, and it hurt, it truly hurt to watch her tear that card up.

This was not like an all encompassing hurt or anything, just a dull ache. But, it stuck with me.

Now each game is going to play differently. Some are now focusing on the non-destruction model, like Gloomhaven. It must be said though, there is a reason that the destruction model can at times be as good as the destruction model. It feels so horrible to tear something up, knowing you will never see the full extent of the game. But, that also feels so good, so unfulfilling. You sir, are a glutton for legacy board game pain…

Initial Impressions

I wanted to hate Legacy gaming. I did hate Legacy gaming. It was inexplicable, and lacked any logic. These games are made to tell a story, and I was against it as a matter of principle. Now, after having played Pandemic Legacy Season 1, I have to say, my initial impression was not particularly fair.

Quality of Components and Insert

These games will likely vary greatly. We have no idea what the next few years of the Legacy mechanic will do to gaming.

Artistic Direction

Seafall was the first major release that was designed from the ground up as a Legacy game. Therefore, most of the art has leaned heavily on the previous games. I am excited to see what the future will bring, as the art is much like graffiti, temporal in nature, and will be digested briefly, and then never to be seen again.

Fun Factor

Did you ever read a Choose your Own Adventure book?

Now, go back, read the same book, and tear it up after you are done. I am over-simplifying greatly, but this is a similar feeling initially.

Once you realize that the destruction is to further the story, you begin to come to terms with the loss. You even may catch yourself beginning to look forward to the plot twist. If you can let yourself just fall into the story, it can be an incredible amount of fun. Why are we playing games after all? I do it to escape a bit.


Coming from someone who actively did not want to like Legacy gaming, I was stunned at how much I enjoyed the first season of Pandemic Legacy. I know not all Legacy gaming will be created at deftly as this fantastic game, but I am now open to the idea.

This says a lot for the genre. It can make a convert of someone who was apparently not ready for it. Now, I will be curious to see what the next twist in the genre bending mechanic comes up next. I will Legacy game again. I will likely do horribly, again. I will likely try to do better and fail, again.

I would suggest giving the games a chance to prove themselves. They may surprise you. They did me.


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