I've been meaning to write this post for little while now. But I've been sidetracked by working through all my Kickstarter prep.
I have a brief moment, and to give you dear reader a break, from my constant talking about Nothing to Declare (did I mention that there's a print and play version here and you can sign up to get notified when the Kickstarter goes live here).
Ok so let's get into it.
What is a Legacy game?
With pretty much every game you play, when you set up the board you're essentially hitting the reset button. It's a clean slate, pieces are put back in their starting positions, resources replenished, cards reshuffled.
But what if they weren't?
That is the whole premise that a Legacy game is built on. Legacy games were the brain child of designer Rob Daviau, as he explains in an interview with Eurogamer;
"In a brainstorm for Cluedo we were talking, and I made the comment of 'I dunno why they keep inviting these people to dinner, they're all mass murderers... And it was this moment where I went 'Oh yeah!' The game kind of starts over like the movie groundhog day. But the players don't start over."
The oracle that is Board Game Geek offers this definition;
Legacy games are board games that change over time based on the outcome of each game and the various choices made by players. Players will often make physical changes to the board game by marking the board/cards and placing stickers over the board as well as often destroy components. The changes made in a Legacy game are always permanent, so what is done can not be undone.
I think this is the most important thing about Legacy games, your actions have a lasting impact. It's what makes it so unique and personal.
At the time Rob was working at Hasbro, so the first game he decided to try this new concept out on was Risk. And so Risk Legacy the first 'Legacy' game was born, as Rob explains it;
"The first Legacy game, Risk: Legacy, is actually a mashup of episodic television, role-playing and video games,"
Risk Legacy has you doing things in board games that are not normal. You tear up cards. Open packs, stick stickers, change the rules! And the most important thing is that these changes don't get wiped away at the end of the game. The next time you play these elements are now part of your game!
In all honesty I do not like Risk, I think it is a dull game. It goes on way to long, it requires player elimination to win and someone always just holds Australia. With that said, I have I cannot emphasis enough how much I have loved playing Risk Legacy. The first game does play every much like standard Risk, however once you've got that out the way, you start adding and changing the board. Permanently.
I've been posting pictures to instagram every time my group has a game of Risk Legacy, so if you're interested be sure to check it out, but be warned!
I must confess that Risk Legacy is the only Legacy game I have played. Having said that I am totally sold on this concept. I have had the most fun playing this game, and yes that's partly due to my gaming group and yes it is a pain to organise regular games, but it is so worth it!
Is there a downside to Legacy games?
The one criticism you can level at a Legacy game is that they are specifically designed to be played a certain number of times, in the case of Risk Legacy it's 15, for Pandemic Legacy it's 12. This gives you two issues, the game has a limit, once you've finished those 12 games, it's done, you've seen all the game has to offer. The flip side is also a problem, do you have a group willing to commit to playing 12 games with you?
In my experience this isn't a bad thing. The average person probably plays a board game they own 5-6 times, maybe once a year, at Christmas. Getting people to commit shouldn't be too much of a problem after the first game.
Due to the nature of Legacy games the limit actually encourages/compels you to keep playing. More importantly if you were to play the game with another group you would more than likely have a completely different experience. Legacy games require a commitment but it's one that is utterly rewarding for the shared experience it gives you and your friends. Your actions are etched on the board for all to see.
So is it worth getting a Legacy game?
Yes. There's a reason Pandemic Legacy is currently ranked number 1 on Board Game Geek.
How many Legacy games are there?
Of games that actually use the term 'Legacy' there are two, Risk and Pandemic.
But that doesn't mean they're the only games that make use of this mechanism. Granted most games that would be referred to as Legacy have some relationship with Rob Daviau, but he doesn't hold a patent on putting stickers on card.
That means there are plenty more games on the horizon that borrow heavily from his ideas. Luckily for us Board Game Geek provides an up to date list that you can check out here.
I am super excited at the prospect of Werewolf Legacy!